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FAYETTEVILLE -- A judge will rule later whether the case of a Springdale teen charged as an adult in two armed robberies will be transferred to juvenile court.

Britavious Devond Sawyer, 17, is accused of being an accomplice in the robbery of an Arvest Bank branch at North Street and Garland Avenue in Fayetteville on Jan. 3, 2017. It was three days after his 16th birthday. Police say Sawyer served as a lookout.

He's also charged with being an accomplice to aggravated robbery in an incident where a man was robbed at gunpoint in Springdale at Baccus Avenue and Thelma Street on Jan. 13, 2017. There's also a drug possession charge associated with the case.

Washington County Circuit Judge Joanna Taylor heard evidence and arguments Thursday and said she will issue a written ruling within two weeks. Juvenile transfer rulings must be in writing.

Prosecutors cited the seriousness of the offenses and argued that Sawyer has a pattern of being involved in violent crimes. They argued that his repeated contact with the juvenile justice system has had little or no deterrent effect.

Chloe Frackler, deputy prosecutor, said Sawyer was the leader in the Springdale robbery and bought a car with proceeds from the Fayetteville bank heist. The incidents involved two different groups of co-defendants.

"The common thread here is Mr. Sawyer," Frackler said. "They're both involved with firearms, and they're both committing robberies."

Attorneys for Sawyer argued that he can still be rehabilitated within the juvenile justice system, which can retain jurisdiction over Sawyer until he turns 21.

Peter Giardino argued that Sawyer's role in both robberies was minimal.

"What we're looking at is someone being told what to do," Giardino said. "He does stuff when there's other people around to do things with. He's not the brains of the operation, he's not the muscle either."

Giardino also argued that Sawyer's upbringing was filled with abandonment, abuse and neglect.

"He needs help. He needs treatment," Giardino said. "We're talking about a kid here. We owe him a chance."

Paul Younger further argued that prison is not likely to make Sawyer a better person.

"To protect society, we need to rehabilitate him because he will get out of prison," Younger said.

Two of Sawyer's three co-defendants in the bank robbery have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced to prison. A third is awaiting trial.

Telvondric Haywood, 21, pleaded guilty in March to aggravated robbery in Washington County Circuit Court. Haywood also pleaded guilty to a list of other felonies. Haywood was sentenced to 30 years at the Arkansas Department of Correction with 15 years suspended on the robbery count.

Quamirrio D. Edwards, 20, of Springdale pleaded guilty to being an accomplice to aggravated robbery last year and was sentenced to 20 years in prison with 10 years suspended.

Lentonio Marcell Jenner, 26, is the other person charged.

Police say Jenner and Haywood entered the bank, brandished guns and demanded money, then fled with $13,165.

Sawyer acted as a lookout and Edwards was the getaway driver, police said. No shots were fired, and no one was hurt. Haywood and Sawyer were arrested after admitting to the robbery, according to police.

Jenner was arrested by the Escambia County sheriff's office while he vacationed in northwest Florida and was returned to Arkansas to face charges.

Jenner was convicted last month in an unrelated incident in which he kidnapped and tried to rob a Fayetteville couple at their home off Huntsville Road last year but was shot in the leg and police found him on the side of the road. Jenner was sentenced to a total of 22 years in that case.

Metro on 11/04/2018

Print Headline: Teen's court transfer up in air

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