Crime

Court: Home invasion suspects face more armed robbery charges

Police continue to build their case against a group of men accused of a string of armed robberies and home invasions in early June and July, according to court testimony.

Nicholas Thomas, 19, Terrence Sanders, 21 and Troy Hughes, 19, faced two counts of home invasion and four counts of armed robbery during a Monday morning Recorder's Court hearing.

Hughes faced 10 additional charges; Sanders and Thomas faced nine additional charges. Those charges include aggravated assault, first degree burglary and theft by taking motor vehicle. Monday's hearing comes after a July 11 hearing in which the three suspect faced dozens of charges for related crimes.

During Monday's hearing, police focused on two home invasions the group is accused of committing on July 10 at a Maricopa Drive and Claymore Drive residence. The suspects used a gold Ford Crown Victoria hijacked days earlier from a customer at Big Cat gas station on North Lumpkin Road for both home invasions, according to an earlier Ledger-Enquirer report.

After breaking into the 3200 block Maricopa Drive home using the garage, four suspects held seven people between 16 and 22 years old at gunpoint, demanding money, phones and other goods, according to court testimony. Two of the victims, a 17-year-old girl and a 16-year-old girl, told officers they were sexually battered during the incident.

Hours later, the suspects forced their way into a Claymore Drive residence with handguns and rifles. They took the occupants' wallets, keys, jewelry and $700 in cash, officers told the court.

When one of the occupants grabbed a rifle and tried to shoot at the fleeing suspects, the men began firing back erratically, accidentally striking a residence two houses down, according to court testimony.

Still exchanging fire with the armed home invasion victim, the suspects jumped into a green Ford F-150 stolen from one of the Claymore Drive residents, but crashed the vehicle in their haste. The group tried to flee again using the stolen Crown Victoria, but crashed again against some trees, officers told the court.

Thomas, Hughes and Sanders were later identified in the group after one of the suspect spoke Hughes' name during the home invasion. Investigators are looking for additional suspects.

Police also said two victims identified Hughes as the culprit in a July 9 robbery on Sam Hurst Drive. Hughes is accused of walking up to the victims, who were standing near a vehicle, and robbing them of cell phones and a small amount of cash.

Judge Michael Cielinski set no bond on the suspect's armed robbery, aggravated assault, first degree burglary and home invasion charges. Sanders and Thomas' remaining bond was set at $46,000. Hughes' remaining bond was set at $21,000.

During the July 11 hearing, police accused the three suspects of participating in a string of armed robberies on June 10. During the crime spree, a cab driver was shot in a vacant lot at 701 Brown Avenue after the suspects used a credit card stolen from a maintenance technician at Burger King. Sanders and Thomas have been charged in that shooting, though police suspect other individuals may have been involved.

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