Judge Says Suspects Will Stand Trial In Canyon Country Bank Robbery
After a series of delays, a preliminary hearing wrapped up Wednesday and Judge David Gelfound found all three suspects will have to answer to a littany of charges in a Canyon Country bank robbery in December 2012.
"The court made soime great findings, essentially holding all of the defendants to answer all of the charges, except for the 'joyriding' charge on a Volvo (one of the getaway cars)," Curry said. "The court did make a finding that they were armed in the bank.
"We come back on April 3 for arraignment," Curry said. All three suspects are being held on $1.3 million bail.
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Phillip Ely, Lavelle Mosley and Terion Collins, all of Los Angeles, are accused of seven felony counts, including second degree robbery, kidnapping to commit another crime, unlawfully taking a vehicle and evading an officer against traffic, according to a criminal complaint.
On Wednesday, officials listened to testimony from LAPD officer Robert Smith, who is from the same area as the suspects and has two brothers who are in the Rolling 40s Crips.
The suspects are accused of helping to further Rolling 40s Crips activity with the robbery, a special allegation that lengthens a potential sentence, said Deputy District Attorney Moira Curry.
“I’ve charged them with the fact that the robbery was being used to advance a criminal street gang, and I prove that allegation through an expert who’s someone from the (South Central) 77th Division of the LAPD,” Curry said.
The arrests in the case were made by the Sheriff’s Department because the crime occurred in deputies' jurisdiction, but Smith is considered an expert on the gang because he’s so familiar with the territory, Curry said.
Local deputies who arrested the suspects identified them from the stand Tuesday.
If convicted, all three suspects are facing indeterminate life sentences because there is a kidnapping charge associated with the bank robbery. A man was taken back to the bank vault against his will, which is where the kidnapping charge comes from, Curry said.
Even the driver is eligible for the kidnapping charge because of his association with the crime, Curry said.
Even without that charge though, due to their past records, Collins is facing a maximum of 42 years, and Ely and Mosley are facing at least 20-plus years, she said.
The defense has not approached Curry for a plea deal, and one has not been offered, she said.
The case is expected to be continued within 15 calendar days.
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Curry also said she wouldn’t be surprised if there were further delays because Mosley recently filed a Marsden motion, which is motion to seek the dismissal of a publicly appointed counsel.
“Mosley wanted to fire his publicly appointed counsel,” Curry said. "The judge denied that motion,” she said. “I’m assuming the complaint is because he’s still sitting in jail.”
A fourth suspect has been identified, but is not yet in custody, officials said, due to the fact that he could not be identified by security camera footage.
“They know who the fourth suspect is, but they don’t have enough evidence to arrest or charge him,” said Lt. Wegener of the Major Crimes Bureau of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
The suspect’s name is not being released because officials are “holding out hope” they might be able to get what they need to bring him in, Wegener said. “You never know,” he added.
The delays that are expected for the trial, which could be delayed again because the defendants have had problems with their counsel, are costly for taxpayers, but could aid in the prosecution of the suspects, Curry said.
“They are making me subpoena all of their witnesses. It’s a very expensive process, and you and I as taxpayers pay for that, when they could have right from the get-go determined that they weren’t ready,” she added.“The longer they wait, the better for me."
Initially, one of the defendants waived his right to a speedy trial, but the case was then delayed due to changes in representation.
"One of the attorneys is engaged in trial, and at the same time, Mr. Collins hired a new attorney, Christopher Darden. He requested a discovery, so the matter is now put over to Jan. 28," Curry said last month.
Darden was part of the prosecution during the famous O.J. Simpson murder trial, when he infamously asked Simpson to try on the bloody glove.
Collins was apprehended by sheriff's deputies near the 210 freeway in Sylmar shortly after the robbery, which resulted in a nationally televised police pursuit.
"They don't seem to be interested in an offer at this time, but these things change," Curry said.
Two of the suspects were taken into custody after they were captured by TV cameras throwing money out of the car. Ely and Mosley were in the car when it came to a stop in South Los Angeles, Curry said.
At least four men robbed the Bank of America in Canyon Country in September, and then led deputies in a prusuit across Los Angeles County, and into downtown, where they began throwing money out of their getaway vehicle as dozens filled the streets.
A fourth suspect was captured on a security camera during the pursuit, but he is still at large, according to officials.
Two individuals were still in the vehicle when it was stopped by sheriff's deputies. A third suspect was captured near the 210 freeway in Sylmar. That was where the fourth suspect was last seen.
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