Trial begins for accused armed robber

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 23, 2016

By Melanie Ruberti

LaGRANGE — The trial of a man accused of helping to rob a convenience store, beat and rob men at two different homes and attempt to break into a third home got underway Tuesday morning in a Troup County Superior courtroom.

Rashaad Quantez Garrett is charged with two counts of robbery, aggravated assault, armed robbery, violation of the street gang terrorism and prevention act, criminal attempt to commit a burglary, burglary and robbery by intimidation.

Garrett was also charged with theft by taking, but was allowed to plead guilty separately from the trial.

According to prosecutors, Garrett stole a purse from inside a store, which was captured on surveillance tape.

That tape was played for the jury.

Garrett and his co-defendant, Terry Copeland, are accused of robbing the Hot Spot convenience store at 523 S. Greenwood St. on Nov. 7, 2014.

Troup County Assistant District Attorney Melissa Himes called to the stand the store clerk on duty when the duo allegedly entered the business.

“I was by the Coke machine smoking a cigarette when two black males wearing hoodies and ski masks came running up,” the clerk remembered. “One did a cartwheel over the counter, one went around and they took the money.”

Himes asked the clerk if he knew who robbed the store that day.

“When they were leaving, they started communicating with one another and I knew their voices. I could place their voices with their faces because they’d come in (to the store) pretty regularly,” the clerk explained to the court.

“Do you see that person here today,” Himes asked him.

“I see one; he’s sitting over there,” the clerk replied as he nodded towards Garrett.

But Julianne Lynn, Garrett’s defense attorney, tore apart the clerk’s testimony on cross examination, especially after the clerk testified the first time he saw her client’s picture was in the Troup County District Attorney’s Office.

“You said the person in the robbery had on a ski mask … so if she (Himes) showed you a picture of my client, then how do you know he is the person who robbed you if that person had a ski mask on?” Lynn asked him.

The clerk sat in silence then said he suffered from short-term memory loss.

Himes then proceeded to call a number of Hispanic men who were also beaten and robbed at two different homes off South Greenwood Street during fall 2014, allegedly by Garrett and Cameron.

The men spoke through an interpreter to the court.

One man said he was jumped on his driveway as he was coming home from work.

“He hit me in the back three times,” the man stated via the interpreter. “Another guy came out from behind a house … I ran and tried to open a door and the guy came and started hitting me and he pushed me … they said, ‘Give me your money. Give me your money.’… They took my phone and my wallet … after they hit me, they took off running.”

Himes showed the court pictures of the man’s injuries, including a bruised back and a lacerated and battered face. The victim told the jury it took him a month to recover from his injuries.

But when Lynn asked the man if he could identify the person who beat him that day the witness said no.

All the Hispanic victims that Himes put on the stand Monday testified to different robberies and beatings that occurred during the fall of 2014, but none of them could place Garrett at the scene of any of the crimes.

One man did put Garrett and Cameron at every single one of the incidents.

One man who was friends with both suspects testified the duo bragged about committing a bunch of robberies and burglaries on South Greenwood Street.

He told the court the pair described the victims they robbed as Mexican.

The man said he came clean to LaGrange police investigators after learning Garrett and Cameron were trying to pin the crimes on him.

“I’m doing my part,” he said. “When they got in trouble, they tried to throw me under the bus. They wanted to get me in trouble. So I’m doing my part.”

The trial resumes Wednesday at 9 a.m.

Melanie Ruberti is a reporter with LaGrange Daily News. She may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2156.