Tearo Stephens didn't have a problem Wednesday admitting his guilt to two burglaries.
Those break-ins, in 2005 and 2006, netted him four years in prison, followed by six on probation, for crimes which his attorney said he's always claimed responsibility.
That's significantly less than the 10-year minimum sentence he'd receive for an armed robbery prosecutors say he committed in the parking lot of the Buena Vista Road Columbus Bank & Trust.
But it doesn't look like Stephens will face that charge in court, because former co-defendants refuse to testify against Stephens, even though statements given to police put the 19-year-old at the crime, said Assistant District Attorney Don Kelly.
The refusals mean the statements are excluded as evidence.
"I'm frustrated that the two co-defendants refused to cooperate," Kelly said. "Unless and until the two co-defendants decide to cooperate, I can't do anything with the other armed robbery."
Attorney Bill Mason, who represents Stephens, said if the witnesses don't testify, he can't cross-examine them.
"Their statements were lies and if I cross-examined them, I could have shown that," he said. "We would have won that case had we gone to trial, also."
Stephens was acquitted by a jury April 9 of an unrelated armed robbery. Kelly claimed Stephens and Rorey Spears, 22, entered the Holly Hills Beverage Shop on North Oakley Drive in June 2006, pointed guns at employees and took thousands in cash.
The pair then ran to Kaleafe Castille, 19, who was waiting to drive them away, Kelly said.
Both Castille and Spears refused to testify at Stephens' trial, which excluded their statements linking him to the robbery.
Stephens could face trial for the other armed robbery charge, though the failure of Castille and Spears to testify has put the case on the back burner, perhaps indefinitely.
Authorities claim Stephens, Castille and a third man — Lamar Kenney, 20 — were involved in the May 5, 2006, armed robbery and aggravated assault of Michael Hatchett in the CB&T parking lot.
Castille pleaded guilty April 7 to two counts of armed robbery and was sentenced to 12 years in prison, followed by eight on probation. Kenney and Spears each pleaded guilty to one count of armed robbery. Kenney was sentenced to 10 years in prison, followed by 10 on probation; Spears got 12 years in prison, followed by eight on probation.