"The protection of society" requires two Little Rock teenagers be tried as adults over allegations they terrorized restaurant workers during the August 2014 armed robbery of a fast-food eatery, a Pulaski County circuit judge ruled Wednesday.
The three workers endured two hours of death threats and physical abuse by the two masked gunmen, one of whom fired his weapon twice during the ordeal.
The second robber raped and groped one of the employees in the restroom while holding his gun to the woman's forehead, Judge Chris Piazza was told during Wednesday's three-hour hearing.
Troy Sanders, 17, and Raheem Lindsey, 18, were 16 and 17 at the time and charged as adults.
They are accused of the gunpoint robbery of the Arby's restaurant on Chenal Parkway.
Each is facing three counts of aggravated robbery, kidnapping, theft and aggravated assault.
Lindsey also is charged with rape while Sanders faces a charge of leaving the scene of an injury accident.
Piazza called the crimes "heinous" but said he also was saddened because the two defendants had a significant support system in place of friends, teachers and family, which the defendants apparently had disregarded.
"To me, the protection of society is the most important issue," he said in explaining his decision to have the teens stand trial in adult court.
Deputy prosecutor Jeanna Sherrill had asked the judge to reject a defense request to transfer the case to juvenile court, citing the violent and aggressive nature of the crime.
Sherrill also asked Piazza to consider that, at the time of the restaurant holdup, Sanders already was facing five counts of aggravated robbery stemming from two armed holdups three days apart in the summer of 2013 -- a carjacking and a convenience store robbery -- all of which he had confessed to committing.
Prosecutors had charged Sanders as an adult in those cases, but Circuit Judge Leon Johnson had transferred them to juvenile court about four months before the Arby's holdup.
Testifying from Mexico over the Internet, the 36-year-old rape victim described how she and her two co-workers, Jeremy James and Christine Krumpton, had finished closing the restaurant some time after midnight.
She said they left together, their standard practice, when the two masked robbers ran up with guns drawn and made them go back inside.
She and Krumpton were ordered to lie on the floor while the robbers tried to break into the restaurant's safe, she testified, speaking through an interpreter.
At one point, they made the manager beat on the safe with a step ladder to try to get it to open, the woman said.
The robbers were distinctly differing heights, she told the judge, and the shorter one took her at gunpoint to the women's restroom.
She said she suspected what he was going to do and begged him not to do it, but he had exposed himself, pointed the gun at her head and pulled her into the restroom.
"I told him to be calm and I would cooperate," she said.
The gunman made her pull down her pants and underwear and groped her, she testified, describing how he held his gun with one hand and put on a condom with the other.
He was unable to rape her through intercourse, so he forced her to perform oral sex, she said. When she balked, he threatened to kill everyone.
"He told me if I didn't do it, first he would kill me, then Jeremy and Christine," the woman testified.
He then took her back to rejoin the others, she said.
The robbers left a short time later, which gave her co-workers an opportunity to call police.
She estimated her ordeal lasted 10 to 15 minutes.
James, the night manager, also described being ambushed in the parking lot by masked gunmen of different heights.
Court records show Lindsey stands 5 feet 5 inches while Sanders is 5-foot-11.
The robbers demanded he open the safe, James testified, but it's on a timed lock and there was no way he could open it.
"I'm telling them the safe can't open, no matter what you do," James told the judge, saying one of the gunmen threatened to kill the workers if the robbers didn't get money.
One of the robbers also punched and kicked him, James said, but he could not say which was responsible because they mostly stood behind the workers and the lights in the restaurant were off because it was closed.
"I can't see. All I can do is hear," James testified.
Eventually, the taller robber took him outside to search the workers' cars for tools that could be used to break into the safe.
The gunman fired a shot while they were outside, James said. Back inside, the robber shot the safe as James was beating on it with a hammer trying to take the hinges off, he said.
The robbers eventually gave up and took James' car keys before fleeing, he told the judge, estimating they'd been held captive by the men for about two hours.
James and Krumpton called police when the men left. Later, the stolen vehicle, a 1993 candy apple green Chevrolet Caprice, crashed head-on into a sport utility vehicle on Chenal Parkway.
One pistol was recovered in the wreckage while a second weapon was found in some nearby woods, detective Julio Gil told the judge.
A seriously injured Lindsey, who bears a striking scar along his left jaw line, was found in the crashed car's passenger side while Sanders became a suspect when his family called an ambulance to their home for him, according to police testimony.
The judge was also told that a police officer guarding Sanders in the hospital heard him tell his grandmother how he'd stolen the car during an armed robbery and that he had been driving the vehicle because Lindsey didn't know how to drive.
A friend of Lindsey's, Michael Lee, 20, testified that he was with the defendants at Sanders' southwest Little Rock home on the evening before the Arby's robbery.
Lee told the judge that Sanders said "he had a lick for us," slang for robbery, at an unnamed fast-food restaurant.
Lee said that he wasn't interested and didn't think Lindsey was either and that the three got a ride from a friend of Sanders'. Lee said he was taken to his home.
When he last saw Lindsey, he said, the teen was asleep in the car after saying he also wanted to go home.
Metro on 09/17/2015
Print Headline: Judge rejects 2 teens' bid to move rape-robbery case to juvenile court