The North Little Rock teenager accused of killing a U.S. serviceman thwarting an armed robbery will be held without bail until his capital murder trial, a Pulaski County circuit judge ruled on Thursday after watching a surveillance video showing the victim being shot in the face.
Drequan Lamont Robinson, 17, has been jailed since his March 18 arrest, three days after Senior Airman Shawn McKeough Jr., was fatally shot at the Valero Big Red convenience store on Broadway across from Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock.
The video clip, played on a laptop computer for the judge, could not be clearly seen in open court, but detective Michael Gibbons testified that the three-minute recording showed the 23-year-old McKeough trying to tackle a panda-hat-wearing armed robber, then being shot by a second robber, a hoodie-wearing gunman.
Chief deputy prosecutor John Johnson asked that bail be denied for Robinson, noting that authorities have both the video and Robinson's confession.
"This is the person ... who shot and killed Mr. McKeough," Johnson said.
Special Circuit Judge John Langston refused to allow bail for Robinson, citing the amount of evidence against Robinson and the serious nature of the capital murder and aggravated robbery charges levied against him. Three other teenagers are likewise charged, all accused of participating in the deadly holdup and all still in custody. Their trials have not been scheduled.
Gibbons told the judge the gunmen had burst into the store, pulled their weapons and demanded store clerk Sherman Flowers empty the cash register.
McKeough, a Maine native stationed at Little Rock Air Force Base, intervened when the robbers ordered everyone in the store -- two clerks and seven customers -- to lie down on the floor.
After McKeough was shot, the robbers ran out of the store and around back to a waiting car, a reddish Dodge Charger, and drove off, Gibbons said, telling the judge that surveillance video from neighboring businesses showed the vehicle. A police surveillance camera also shows the car in the vicinity of the store, the detective testified.
Robinson has a juvenile conviction for felony fleeing, Gibbons said.
Tips about the robbers' identities started coming in after police had photographs of the robbers shown on the news and social media, the detective testified. Tipsters immediately pointed to Robinson, and shown one of the photographs by police, his mother, Ebony Ware, acknowledged the robber closely resembles Robinson, Gibbons told the judge.
"She said, 'That looks like my son but I'm not for sure,'" the detective said.
Tipsters also told police that Robinson was hiding out at a hotel next to a Waffle House, aided by relatives who hoped to get him to St. Louis, Gibbons told the judge.
He said police and U.S. marshals narrowed that description down to the Motel 6 at 3200 Bankhead Drive in Little Rock, where they found Robinson had been staying in a room registered in the name of his uncle, Gregory Simmons. Investigators found Robinson and co-defendant Keith Lamont Harris, 18, of Little Rock in a red Charger at the hotel. Harris, whom Gibbons identified as the panda-hat-wearing robber, surrendered, but Robinson ran into some nearby woods before he was caught.
In custody, Robinson identified the others with him the night of the robbery, described how they came up with the idea of robbing a store earlier that night and then spent an hour driving around looking for a store to rob before choosing the Big Red, Gibbons told the judge.
Robinson did not testify, but his attorney, Megan Wilson, suggested the police had improperly questioned Robinson while he was intoxicated from smoking marijuana and that investigators further ignored his requests to have his lawyer present during questioning after his arrest. Robinson's stepfather, Laronn Rainell Ware, 43, asked the judge to set bail at something affordable for his family, at most $100,000 with an ankle monitor.
Also testifying on Robinson's behalf was his girlfriend, Aaliyah Pettus, who told the judge that police had pressured her into cooperating with the investigation with threats that she was going to get in trouble with the law.
When prosecutors showed Pettus the surveillance photo of the robber who shot McKeough, Pettus first said the picture did show Robinson. But she almost immediately recanted when questioned by the defense, complaining that prosecutors had confused her and that the picture was definitely not Robinson.
Senior Airman Shawn McKeough Jr. is shown in this file photo.
Metro on 09/27/2019
Print Headline: Teen ordered held until trial in airman case; prosecutors cite confession, video of North Little Rock gas-station slaying