One of four suspects allegedly involved in a Jan. 10 Circle K armed robbery in which two people were assaulted appeared in Recorder's Court Wednesday morning.
Represented by Columbus public defender Charles Lykins, a juvenile pleaded not guilty to two counts of aggravated assault and one count of armed robbery.
Recorder's Court Judge Michael Cielinski issued the defendant a $50,000 bond for each count of aggravated assault but denied him bond on the armed robbery charge. The case was bound over to Superior Court.
On Jan. 10 at 9:38 p.m., the business alarm of the Circle K at 2514 Manchester Expressway was activated and police responded to the area, said Sgt. Michael Dahnke with the Columbus Robbery and Homicide Division.
The first officer on the scene spotted a silver 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix parked west of the store's front doors. Two suspects were inside of the vehicle and two others ran out of the store and into the car, Dahnke told the court.
Police believe the defendant was one of the two seen running into the 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix before all four suspects fled the scene in the vehicle. Officials were not able to immediately apprehend any of the suspects seen in the automobile, but an officer did record the tag number on the Pontiac, Dahnke testified.
Surveillance video of the Circle K armed robbery showed three suspects exit the Pontiac and entered the store separately. Police later learned that the fourth suspect (who was identified as 20-year-old Courtney Hughes of Atlanta) remained in the car and served as the getaway driver.
A female store clerk and male customer were in the establishment at the time of the armed robbery, Dahnke said.
After one suspect (who was identified as 24-year-old Tommy Thomas of Forest Park) approached the counter and drew a semi-automatic pistol, an unspecified male suspect and the defendant allegedly moved toward the counter. That's when the customer ran toward the exit. The defendant and the unspecified male suspect reportedly beat the man to keep him from escaping, Dahnke told the court.
The victim was eventually able to break free from his attackers and go back to his home. Later on, the victim told police that he suffered from head and neck pain as well as redness and swelling as a result of the assault. He refused medical treatment, according to the officer's testimony.
After the customer left, the gunman slammed the woman's head on the counter several times and then pistol whipped her, causing a laceration over her right eye, Dahnke said. She received medical treatment following the incident, but she has since been released from the hospital.
"In the surveillance video, you see the pool of blood where she was standing at," Dahnke testified.
The investigator said the defendant was seen climbing over the counter taking the cigarettes from the rack along with the other suspects. The robbers took approximately $25 and 16 packs of cigarettes valued at $92, the investigator told the court.
Police later learned that the 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix was hijacked from Atlanta Jan. 10, prior to the Circle K incident.
Sgt. Dahnke told the judge that he coordinated with an Atlanta investigator when following up on the armed robbery.
On Feb. 19, police found the stolen vehicle abandoned at a Fulton County apartment complex. Authorities located a receipt from a Newnan Walmart and a bag from the Columbus Circle K inside of the car.
Dahnke said police obtained surveillance footage from the Newnan Walmart that showed all four subjects entering the store at about 7:11 p.m. and leaving at 7:18 p.m. He didn't mention the day they visited the Walmart, but he said they arrived there in another stolen vehicle.
Dahnke said Google Maps indicates that the distance between the Columbus Circle K on Manchester Expressway and the Newnan Walmart the alleged robbers entered is about 71 miles.
After seeing the surveillance video from Walmart, police were able to identify Hughes and Thomas as two of the four armed robbers, the officer testified.
Further into the investigation, Columbus authorities learned that Thomas, Hughes and the defendant were arrested in connection to a Jan. 11 home invasion in Cobb County.
Davis was released following his arrest, but Hughes and Thomas were placed in the Cobb County Jail, the investigator told the court.
Columbus officials interviewed both Hughes and Thomas. Hughes allegedly admitted to police that she was involved in the armed robbery and drove the getaway vehicle. Though Hughes and Thomas knew the defendant by a different name, they did confirm that he was arrested with them in Cobb County, Dahnke said.
Police found out that the defendant was arrested in black jacket and Timberland-styled boots. They spotted similar clothing on the individual in both surveillance videos, which led police to issue warrants for the juvenile's arrest, Dahnke said.
On June 11, Columbus police went to the Atlanta Police Department to interview and pick up the defendant. The juvenile allegedly told police that he was one of the people spotted in a couple of snapshots from the Walmart and Circle K surveillance videos, but the juvenile reportedly recanted his statement when he saw additional photographs from the footage.
After the interview, Columbus officers arrested the underage suspect and transported him to the Muscogee County Jail.
In his testimony, Sgt. Dahnke did not mention what Hughes and Thomas were charged with in connection to the Circe K armed robbery or if they remain in the Cobb County Jail.
The investigator said police are still looking to arrest the final suspect in the Columbus incident. Because it's an ongoing investigation, the detective declined to comment on whether they have identified the fourth suspect.