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Verdicts likely mean life in prison for Crab Shack robbers

JONESBORO — Three defendants convicted in the June 15, 2012, armed robbery of Joe’s Crab Shack face life in prison plus 300 years when they return to court for sentencing Nov. 15, said prosecutors.

One of the three, Shakrystin Brinae Brown, 22, of Jonesboro, worked as a hostess at the Morrow restaurant and faked being a victim during the robbery, said Clayton County Assistant District Attorney Travis Meyer who prosecuted the case with ADA John Fowler.

The three defendants were part of a seven-person crew, including a driver and two lookouts, that carried out the armed robbery. They expected to net about $70,000. They left with about $1,500 and a few cell phones — to be divided among the seven.

“They didn’t get anywhere near the cash cow they expected,” said Meyer.

Although no one was physically injured during the robbery, Meyer said the real seven victims were traumatized by the three armed men.

“These victims are forever changed,” he said. “They were terrified, scared to death. Some had guns at their heads, at their necks. They could feel the cold metal of the gun against their skin. Some had their hands duct-taped together. They weren’t sure if they would see their families again.”

Meyer said Brown planned the robbery with her relatives, Brittany Darcia Patterson, 22, of Decatur and Dantarrel Deandre Ray, 26, of Atlanta.

Ray, Brown and co-defendants Jonathan Keith Hammonds, 24, of Ellenwood and Alex Donavan Randell, 21, of Decatur went on trial Oct. 14 but Hammonds took a plea deal Oct. 18 before the trial ended, said Meyer.

Hammonds pleaded guilty to one count of armed robbery and seven of aggravated assault. He was sentenced by Chief Judge Deborah Benefield to 50 years, to serve 30 in prison.

Meyer said Hammonds dodged a bullet. When the jury returned with a verdict Monday, his three co-defendants were found guilty of 12 counts of aggravated assault, seven counts each of armed robbery, false imprisonment, pointing a pistol at another and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and one count of felony theft by taking.

“They could each get seven life sentences plus about 300 years in prison,” said Meyer.

Patterson and two other co-defendants, Jazmine Latisha Washington, 23, of Lithonia and Ahkeem Rashiid Simmons, 24, of Atlanta turned state’s evidence and testified against the four. Patterson and Washington acted as lookouts from the AMC parking lot and Simmons was recruited as the driver.

Meyer said his office is still working on a resolution to their charges but they are expected to plead guilty and be sentenced Nov. 1 by Benefield.

The armed robbery was worked by Morrow Police Department.

“They did a great job of helping to put pieces together,” said Meyer. “They got all the people together and got the jury to see through all the lies. Jurors were able to see it was a well-planned, well-organized, coordinated crime.”

With the bulk of the case disposed of, Meyer has had time to reflect on what could have been.

“I can only imagine,” he said. “All three men had guns, they were wearing masks. I just wonder what could have happened if any one of the employees decided to fight back? There could have been seven dead bodies.”

He also thanked the jury for its verdict.

“This shows there are still people who care about what happens in this county,” said Meyer.