Robbery suspect who allegedly shot at Phenix City police headed to trial

Suspect's accused of robbing Victory Drive Papa John's

tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.comApril 17, 2014 


A Columbus armed robbery suspect appears headed to trial in Russell County on charges of shooting at Phenix City police and a district attorney’s investigator during a chase on July 25, 2013.

A hearing Wednesday for Robert Lorenzo Anderson got off to a delayed and then false start when defense attorney J.C. Bernard didn’t show up until Circuit Court Judge Michael Bellamy called and ordered him to come to court.

Because Anderson’s accused of shooting at an employee of the Russell County district attorney’s office, his prosecution’s being handled by Alabama Assistant Attorney General John Hensley, to avoid a conflict of interest.

Hensley offered to dismiss two of Anderson’s four counts of attempted murder if the defendant would plead guilty to the other two and accept a sentence of 20 years in prison.

“I’ve never seen this before,” Bernard said when shown the plea offer, though Hensley and Bellamy said it had been discussed in a previous court proceeding. Hensley said he also sent Bernard a Feb. 26 letter, but Bernard said he never received that correspondence.

The defense attorney blamed the confusion on a misunderstanding.

Perturbed, Bellamy said the attorneys Wednesday were to be prepared either for a guilty plea or a hearing on suppressing evidence.

Bernard rejected the plea and waived the hearing, prompting Bellamy to say the defense could have waived the hearing before deputies brought Anderson to Phenix City from the Lee County jail in Opelika, Ala., where he is being held.

Bellamy set the case for trial at 9 a.m. Monday.

Anderson was the last of three suspects wanted in the June 24, 2013, armed robbery of the Papa John’s Pizza at 3949 Victory Drive in Columbus.

Witnesses said three men with pistols came into the business at 7:15 p.m. that Monday and ordered six workers and a customer to get down on the floor.

They got keys to the restaurant’s safe, took cash from it and the register’s cash drawer, and ran north toward Lambert Drive, police said.

Investigators soon captured two suspects, Calixto Ibarguen and Dqwanzeo Pollard. leaving Anderson, then 23, the only one still at large.

About 4:20 p.m. the following July 25, Phenix City police called to a report of shots fired at the Riverview Apartments complex on Fourth Avenue saw a man come out a window and run. When they started chasing him, he turned and shot at them.

As the foot chase continued toward Trinity United Methodist Church at 1600 Fifth Ave., the officers started shooting back.

The district attorney’s investigator was leaving the Russell County Judicial Center at 501 14th St. when the fleeing gunman saw the law enforcement vehicle and shot at it. Both the investigator and the police shot back, hitting the suspect in the leg.

Anderson was treated for his wound at The Midtown Medical Center in Columbus. No one else was injured.

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