1 defendant remains in armed robbery trial
by Wes Mayer
Only one of the four men indicted for a group of armed robberies in and around Coweta County is still on trial after another of the defendants pleaded guilty Thursday.
Ayinde Khalil Pearson will be going into his fourth day on trial before Coweta County Superior Court Judge Emory Palmer today. The other three men indicted, Donquerius Lamonte Mahone, Reggie Jerome Crowder and Deandrez Sherod White, have all chosen to plead guilty, and they have each been sentenced to 40 years with 22 years to serve in prison. All four men have been charged with numerous counts of armed robbery, aggravated assault and aggravated assault on a peace officer, and Crowder and White were both charged with kidnapping as well.
White pleaded guilty Thursday after the prosecution, led by Coweta County assistant district attorneys Kevin McMurry and Trey Reeves, presented a new piece of evidence to the court – a recorded telephone conversation White made on Tuesday from the Coweta County Jail. During this conversation, which White was notified would be recorded, White spoke to a few members of his family and some friends, and he made an attempt to procure a witness from testifying in court. This witness was served a subpoena on Tuesday, according to Coweta County District Attorney’s Office Investigator David Parten, and, on Thursday, authorities were unable to locate her.
Because of this recording, White and his attorney, Julie C. Moore, chose to plead guilty to his charges of armed robbery, aggravated assault on a peace officer and kidnapping. The charges stem from two main robberies – one in Hogansville during which Crowder, White and Mahone got into a high speed chase with a Hogansville police officer and fired at the officer, and one in Newnan where Crowder and White robbed the Family Dollar on Temple Avenue and forced a customer back into the store.
Pearson is being defended by attorney Andrew Garland from Villa Rica. Pearson was indicted for his suspected involvement in two robberies in Newnan – one of the Tienda del Valle on Farmer Street and the other of the Carniceria del Valle on Turkey Creek Road. Immediately after the Carniceria del Valle robbery, the 17-year-old daughter of the store’s owner pursued the suspects to get a description of their vehicle, and the suspects fired back at her, striking the vehicle’s windshield and front grill, ending the chase.
On Wednesday, Mahone took the stand and testified to firing all the shots at the officer and the 17-year-old victim. He also admitted to lying in court and lying to investigators outside of court. Because of this, he will likely face an increase in sentencing.
On Wednesday and Thursday, Investigator Mark Callahan with the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office took the stand to explain his investigation and interviews with the defendants. The jury was shown two videos on Thursday – one of Investigator Callahan’s and Investigator Elaine Jordan’s interview with Mahone, which lasted around an hour, and the other of the investigators’ interview with Pearson, which lasted around two hours.
During Pearson’s interview, Pearson denied having anything to do with any armed robberies multiple times. Pearson claimed in the interviews that on the day of the Carniceria del Valle robbery – the day before he was pulled over and taken into custody for possession of a firearm which matched the one used in the robbery – he was in Peachtree City waiting to pick up his girlfriend from work.
Today, the state plans to conclude its presentation of the evidence and will call Crowder and White as witnesses. The defense will also be given a chance to make its case. On Monday, attorneys plan to give their closing arguments and turn the case over to the jury for deliberation.