Homeless man on trial for armed robbery
by Wes Mayer
A homeless man suspected of robbing a massage parlor with a knife in April 2013 is on trial this week in Coweta Superior Court.
William Therrell Otero, 31, was indicted on charges of armed robbery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and misdemeanor possession of marijuana. The case is being prosecuted by Coweta County Assistant District Attorney Kevin McMurry and Otero is being defended by public defenders Jerry Pittman and Ricardo Samper. Superior Court Judge Dennis Blackmon is presiding over the trial.
Attorneys selected a jury on Monday and Tuesday morning, and attorneys gave their opening statements Tuesday afternoon. McMurry then began calling witnesses.
Otero was arrested on April 27, 2013, following an investigation by Lt. John Kennedy with the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office. Two days earlier, Otero was suspected of entering the Asian Therapeutic Massage Parlor in the White Oak shopping center on Highway 34 East, grabbing an employee by her head and hair, holding a knife against her throat and demanding money from the store. One of the owners who was in the store then led Otero to the cash register, and he fled with $756 in cash.
According to McMurry’s opening statement, while Otero was robbing the massage parlor, he held onto one of the employees and hit her head against a desk inside the store. After receiving the cash from the store’s owner, Otero also attempted to tie the employees up, but couldn’t find anything to tie them up with. He also tried to take the car keys from the employees, but they told him they did not have a car. Otero then fled out the back entrance of the parlor.
Using witness’ descriptions of the suspect and surveillance images from a nearby restaurant, Kennedy was able to identify Otero. Kennedy later found Otero staying at a Motel 6 with a misdemeanor amount of marijuana, and Otero was taken into custody.
According to Pitman in his opening statement, the jury needed to pay attention to a few discrepancies in the evidence, including the suspect’s description. Pittman said the suspect was described by employees as clean-shaven with a kid’s face, and he had a tattoo on the left side of his neck. Otero, as he was seen from the surveillance images, has a mustache and beard, and no tattoos on his neck.
The knife used in the robbery and the money stolen from the massage parlor were never recovered, Pittman said.
The trial of Otero will continue today.