Four people — Yvonne Irene Alexander, Austin Kyle Hernandez, Vernon Edroy Nisbett and Glenn Voice Payton — were charged after Bartow County Sheriff’s Office investigators said they orchestrated a home invasion at a Jordan Road residence.
Prosecutors said Nisbett lured the homeowner away from the residence by asking for a ride to several places after 10:30 p.m. on the night of the incident. The four allegedly duct-taped the resident’s 12-year-old son and robbed the homeowner, taking a television, laptop, Xbox game system, a camera and accessories, totaling more than $2,000.
The four were charged with kidnapping with bodily injury, kidnapping, cruelty to children — deprivation of necessary sustenance in the first degree, robbery, aggravated assault, first-degree burglary, battery. Payton also was charged with theft by deception.
On Monday, Nisbett and Payton entered guilty pleas and testified as state’s witness. They will be sentenced at a later date.
Hernandez on Wednesday took the stand, testifying that he was not part of the planned robbery, although he had heard the group discussing “hitting a lick.”
The teen said he had fled on foot when the group arrived at the residence. The 12-year-old victim, however, on Tuesday identified Hernandez as one of the people inside the home during the residence.
Questions arose repeatedly Wednesday about which of the defendants was wearing traditional Converse sneakers, the one identifier the juvenile spotted on his captors.
Hernandez’s attorney, Paul Smith, pointed out in his closing arguments that Converse sneakers are common apparel, pulling three of his wife’s Converse shoes from a bag.
“At the time Austin was arrested, the state knew one thing — the kid saw a black male, black female and high-top, black-and-white trimmed shoes, shoes so common there’s a closet full of them in my own house, and because Austin had the misfortune of putting those shoes on that day, he’s arrested,” Smith said.
The defense attorney maintained that the co-defendants only began to say Hernandez was involved in the robbery earlier this week.
“One thing we know is that up until Glenn and Vernon cut their deal, they were telling anybody who asked, ‘Austin didn’t have anything to do with this,’” Smith said.
Prosecutor Sharon Fox, in her closing, asked the jury if they would be the ones to tell the boy’s father he had contaminated evidence when he removed the duct tape the defendants used from his son’s mouth and hands.
“Which one of you is going to tell that dad, ‘You ruined the case because you pulled it off your son’s mouth so he could talk to you?’ Which one of you is going to tell him, ‘Well, you ruined the case because you took it off his hands before you called 911 and dropped it on the floor of that bathroom?’” Fox said. “Which one of you is going to go to that daddy and say, ‘Well, we might have decided the case but you ruined it when you went to your son?’”
Deliberations resume this morning at 9.