0

3 plead guilty to mall smash-and-grab

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Three of the six people accused in a smash-and-grab burglary, involving a car driven into the Macy's store at Southlake Mall, have pleaded guilty to a combined total of 69 charges, according to the prosecutor handling the case.

Clayton County Assistant District Attorney Sheryl Freeman said Octavius Antonio Nix, 17, Eric Lewis Davis, 19, and Melvin Lewis Allison, Jr., 19, pleaded guilty, on Tuesday, to a plethora of charges, including burglary, conspiracy to commit a crime, criminal trespass, theft by taking, and theft by receiving stolen goods.

Freeman said Nix, Davis and Allison each was sentenced by Clayton County Superior Court Judge Albert B. Collier to 15 years, with five years of that time to be spent in jail, and the other 10 years to be spent on probation.

She added that each has to pay $8,572 in restitution, which will be split evenly among Macy's, State Farm Insurance, and the owner of a stolen vehicle used to get away from the mall.

"I think they decided that they wanted to take responsibility for what they did," Freeman said. "The evidence was certainly there to prove they did it .. I think they also realized the community is not going to tolerate smash-and-grabs taking place around here."

Nix and Davis each pleaded guilty to 21 charges, while Allison pleaded guilty to 27 charges. In addition to the burglary, theft and trespassing charges, there were several other charges, to which all three pleaded guilty.

Allison, however, also pleaded guilty to charges that only he was facing, which stem from a high-speed chase that happened after the burglary. He pleaded guilty to reckless driving, driving on the wrong side of the road, a divided highway-restriction violation, driving too fast for conditions, speeding, and fleeing, or attempting to elude a police officer.

The only charges to which they did not plead guilty, according to Freeman, were gang activity charges. Freeman said three other people facing charges in the case -- Timothy Wright, Kardarius Glass, and Tobias Davis, all minors -- have not taken a plea, and are scheduled to appear Monday on Collier's jury trial calendar. "They can either plead guilty, or go to trial," she said.

According to the warrantless arrest affidavits for Nix, Allison and Eric Davis, the group drove a stolen 1999 Dodge Intrepid through the front doors and security gate, at the south entrance to Macy's, on Feb. 7, at approximately 2:33 a.m. "Said accused ... caused property damage estimated in the tens of thousands of dollars," according to the arrest affidavit.

The group then allegedly stole 292 pieces of clothing, worth $21,801.50, from the store, according to Morrow Police, at the time.

They then loaded the items into a stolen, 1997 Dodge Caravan and led police on a high speed chase on Jonesboro Road, from Morrow to Jonesboro, according to Freeman. She said Morrow police officers saw the group as they were leaving the mall, and began pursuing them.

The indictment shows that Allison drove the stolen vehicle at 80 miles per hour, in a 45-mile per hour zone on Jonesboro Road, ran a red light, drove across a median, and drove down the wrong side of the road "in a reckless disregard of the safety of person and property."

Freeman said Clayton County and Jonesboro police officers eventually joined in the pursuit. "Some of them were apprehended that night, at the Waffle House, on Tara Boulevard," she said.

Morrow Police said, in February, that the majority of people in the group were apprehended at the Waffle House, but a sixth person turned himself in a few hours later. Attorneys for the three, who pleaded guilty, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.