Three found guilty in robbery case

Published 3:51 pm Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Decatur County jury recently found three men guilty of charges stemming from an armed robbery and home invasion on South Hall Street on December 21, 2012.

District Attorney Joseph K. Mulholland and Chief Assistant District Attorney Michael L. Bankston began the three-day jury trial on Monday, May 6, and finished Wednesday May 8.

The impaneled jury found Rufus Van Chatman, 41, of Miami, Fla., and Troy Jermaine Jackson, 39, of Camilla, Ga., guilty on three counts of armed robbery, burglary in the first degree, possession of a firearm during commission of a felony and aggravated assault on a peace officer.

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Superior Court Judge J. Kevin Chason sentenced Mr. Chatman and Mr. Jackson to 45 years to serve in the state prison system.

The third defendant, Maurice Merille Williams, 34, of Camilla, was found guilty on failure to maintain lane, attempting to elude, failure to stop at stop sign, reckless driving, and driving while license suspended. Williams was sentenced to two years to be served in the Decatur County Correctional Institute by Judge J. Kevin Chason.

One of the victims reported he was standing in the backyard of the residence when two black males, dressed in all black, ski masks and wielding handguns ran up to him and demanded his keys and cell phone. The victim stated he was forced to knock on the door of the residence so that the robbers could enter the home, at which point they asked for money. Shortly after, one of the robbers fired a gun, sending the victims scattering.

Evidence at trial showed that Chatman and Jackson entered the home of Richard Moore at gun point and robbed the occupants, Mulholland said.

After the armed robbery occurred, the defendants fled and drove to Grady County, Ga., accelerating at high speed and attempting to shoot at state troopers. The defendants were finally apprehended by GSP Troopers Meed Kelly and Brian Palmer, with no fatalities or injuries, following a search of a wooded area.

In a joint statement, Mulholland and Bankston said:

“We want the people in our community to know that there will be zero tolerance for horrific crimes in which someone could have very easily been killed. This was a tremendous week for our office: we had a great jury pool and we were able to secure convictions on this serious case involving armed robbery, burglary and aggravated assault.”

Testifying during the trial were BPS Investigator Mark Esquivel, State troopers Kelly and Palmer, Decatur County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Grady County Investigators Robert Brice and Robbie Simmons.