Four deny robbing Lyle gas stationPublished 10:19am Friday, November 22, 2013
Four suspects accused of robbing a Lyle gas station at gunpoint have all pleaded not guilty in Mower County Court.
Vonzell Demond Whitehead, 28; Tuquan Lee Smith, 24; Keion Cornelius Clay, 22; and Elgin Tyrese Green, 20, each pleaded not guilty Thursday to a felony charge of first-degree aggravated robbery.
According to the court complaint, the men allegedly robbed the Freeborn County Co-Op Oil in Lyle at about 9 a.m. Nov. 10. The store clerk said three men entered the store, and one demanded all of the money. Another allegedly followed the clerk to an office and took more money and checks. The clerk locked the doors after the men left and called 911.
Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene while an Austin Police officer set up surveillance just outside of Austin. That officer later stopped a car with the four suspects in Austin. Officers searched the vehicle for a gun for their safety, and according to the court complaint, found a sweatshirt with a .22-caliber revolver, $353 in cash and eight checks written to the gas station. A search warrant later uncovered dark clothing and hats.
The employee later identified Whitehead and Green as two of the four suspects. Police reviewed video surveillance, which indicates some of the suspects were in the store earlier that morning. The employee also identified a piece of clothing investigators found that may have been tossed from the vehicle.
The complaint alleges Green pointed the gun at the clerk, and Whitehead pocketed money before leaving the store. Witnesses gave matching descriptions of the suspects’ car, as well.
During interviews, the suspects gave differing accounts. According to the complaint, Whitehead said he had nothing to do with the “actual robbery itself.” Others denied they robbed the store, as well, and said they were in different locations that morning.
Three of the men have pretrials set for March 28 while Clay has demanded a speedy trial, in which no date has been set.