Two of three men allegedly tied to the local Super 8 armed robbery appeared in Columbus Recorder's Court this morning to face charges stemming from the Jan. 20 incident.
Co-defendants Justin Andrew Cleveland and Jaquariez David Scott, who are both 18 years old, pleaded not guilty to one count each of armed robbery and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. Judge Michael Joyner issued a $5,000 bond on each weapon charge but didn't set bond on the remaining charges.
Neither one of them testified in court.
Columbus Police Detective Wayne Fairbairn said surveillance video shows an armed black man entering the 2935 Warm Springs Road hotel around 8 p.m. Dressed in a black hoodie and camoflauge fleece neck gaiter, the suspect pointed a .44 caliber Smith & Wesson handgun at the clerk and demanded money before fleeing the store with $300 to $400 in cash, police said.
No one harmed, the detective added.
The clerk and a security officer witnessed the gunman, who wore purple and blue shoes, get into a silver 2001 Mercury Grand Marquis with a temporary tag and flee the scene, according to police.
The clerk told officials that she recognized the gunman as a customer named Daryll Antonio Williams Jr. who checked into the hotel the previous day. She said he wore the same purple and blue shoes and registered the same Grand Marquis before his hotel stay.
When making the transaction, Williams gave the clerk his personal information, including his driver's license and address, authorities said.
Police went to Willliams' Marlette Court home the night of the incident and spotted an unoccupied silver 2001 Grand Marquis without a tag parked across street at Cleveland's house. There was a black Ford Crown Victoria sitting directly in front of Williams' residence with the same paper tag seen at the crime scene.
Police approached the Crown Victoria, where they found Cleveland in the driver's seat and Scott in the rear passenger seat. When the suspects stepped out of the vehicle, the same "unique firearm" used in the armed robbery fell at Scott's feet, Fairburn testified.
Police said they found a camouflage fleece neck gaiter and black hoodie in the Crown Victoria, which was registered to one of Cleveland's family members.
Authorities then went to William's house, where they found what appeared to be the same purple and blue shoes worn during the armed robbery, Fairbairn said.
"Mr. Cleveland stated that he didn't know how all that stuff got into his vehicle," Fairbairn testified. "He then stated that he had been at the house the hold time."
Cleveland and Scott were taken into custody on Marlette Court that night and transported to Muscogee County Jail.
Police said arrest warrants have been issued for 21-year-old Williams, who is a 6-foot tall black who weighs 185 pounds. He has brown eyes and short black hair short.
Anyone who spots Williams is urged to call police immediately.
— Sarah is a crime & safety reporter at The Ledger-Enquirer. You can contact her on Twitter at @SarahR_92.