The attorney for a man accused of robbing an insurance agent at gunpoint and using his stolen credit card to buy gas says authorities don’t have enough evidence against his client, who cooperated in the police investigation.
But the prosecutor and a detective told Judge William Rumer that the evidence speaks for itself.
Detective Robert Nicholas said the evidence includes video recordings of Dontrel Marquis Harper going from business to business trying to use the credit card to buy gas, his first stop at a Circle K less than a mile away occurring 24 minutes after the robbery on Matilda Lane at 4:40 p.m. Jan. 24.
Harper, 23 at the time, kept trying to use the card even after the victim had it canceled, Nicholas said.
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Defense attorney Michael Eddings said the victim did not identify Harper as one of the two men who accosted and robbed him as he traveled between residences in the 3500 block of Matilda Lane. Because it was a daylight robbery, the witness should have had a good look at the two, Eddings said.
Nicholas confirmed in court that the agent did not identify Harper as one of the robbers.
The insurance agent said he was at his pickup truck when one of the two men pointed a gun at his head as the other went through his pockets, taking his wallet with credit cards, truck keys, $500 in insurance company cash and a .40-caliber semi-automatic pistol.
Afterward the agent called credit card companies to cancel the stolen cards. Within minutes of the robbery, his American Express card was used to buy gas for a black Honda Accord at a Circle K.
About 40 minutes later, someone tried to use the card again to get gas at the Victory Drive Walmart, police said.
Nicholas said video footage showed a man and woman accompanied Harper, with the other man trying to use the disabled card before Harper tried to use it again.
The woman who was with Harper has been charged with financial transaction card fraud, the detective said. The other man has not been captured, but Harper helped confirm his identity, and warrants have been issued.
Under Eddings’ questioning, Nicholas confirmed the other suspect is a “known robber.”
Eddings claimed Harper had no idea the card was stolen, and used it only because a man he was giving a ride offered it to him to help pay for gas.
U.S. Marshals arrested Harper in Alabama on April 21. He gave police a statement in an hour-long interview, Nicholas said.
Harper was in the news before his arrest, as police asked the public to help track him down.
“He uses the names ‘Whiteboi’ and ‘King,’ and is known to frequent the area of Elizabeth Canty Apartments on Cusseta Road,” Columbus police posted Feb. 22 on their “Warrant Wednesday” Facebook post. “Harper should be considered ARMED and DANGEROUS.”
Eddings asked Rumer to set bonds on Harper’s armed robbery and aggravated assault charges. Rumer set a bond of $35,000 on each.
Harper also is charged with four counts of financial transaction card fraud and one each of second-degree burglary and using a gun to commit a crime. His bonds now total $83,500, the judge said.