Thursday, December 3, 2009

Guilty, punishment phase continues

Good job to the Steves.

Jury finds man guilty of aggravated robbery


After deliberating for about one hour and 40 minutes, a jury of 12 found Harold Lee Lloyd guilty on a charge of first-degree felony aggravated robbery on Wednesday.

Lloyd, 27, quietly pursed his lips, blinked rapidly and stared straight ahead as 207th District Judge Charles Ramsay read the verdict.

Lloyd faces from five to 99 years in prison for his part in a May 30, 2008 robbery at the Rodeway Inn off I-35 in New Braunfels. His sentencing hearing continues today.

Following a full day of testimony on Tuesday, prosecutors rested their case at about 9:40 a.m. Wednesday.

Starting at 10 a.m., defense attorney Willard Holgate of Austin called four witnesses, including Lloyd’s common-law wife, Cheryl McCoy, her mother, Shelia Warrington, and Warrington’s girlfriend, Regina Lawson.

All three women testified that Lloyd had been at home playing Cranium, a board game, with family and friends on the night of the robbery.

Warrington testified that as early as 2:30 a.m. May 30, 2008, she saw Lloyd on the couch in his pajamas, where he often listened to music into the early hours of the morning. Warrington and Lawson testified that they both awoke at 5:30 a.m. to make coffee and saw Lloyd still lying on the couch in the same pajamas.

The robbery took place some time around 5 a.m. that morning.

All three women said that with nine people living in a double-wide trailer with three dogs and a creaky screen door, they would have surely heard Lloyd if he’d left the house that night.

Defense counsel Holgate picked holes in conflicting reports by the victim, David Lee Murphy, night clerk at the hotel on the night of the robbery.

Murphy testified that his assailant was tall and lean, about 5 foot 9 inches and 180 pounds.

Lloyd is 6 foot 1 inch and 198 pounds, Holgate said.

Holgate tried to discredit the testimony of Lloyd’s neighbors, Brian Grider and Grider’s cousin, Cindi Harding, who said Lloyd bragged about his crime to them.

Holgate argued in his closing statements that Grider was racist and didn’t like Lloyd and that Harding only testified against Lloyd to ease her own marijuana possession rap (Harding was in the car along with two others the night Lloyd was arrested).

McCoy, Lloyd’s common-law wife, said during testimony that New Braunfels detectives deceived her during the investigation.

She said detectives claimed they had video evidence and fingerprints that proved Lloyd was the robber. McCoy said detectives asked her to get a confession from Lloyd in exchange for a lighter sentence.

That was why McCoy urged Lloyd to give up his accomplice during taped jailhouse conversations, she said.

She later found out that there were neither useable prints nor video of the robbery, she said.

Any admissions of guilt during the taped conversations referred to Lloyd’s alcohol problem, not the robbery, McCoy said. And other recordings about fingerprints referred to prints on the gun that Lloyd owned, not about prints at the scene of the crime, she said.

In his closing, Holgate said investigators prejudged Lloyd and molded evidence to pin the crime on him. Holgate said the skullcap recovered from Lloyd after the crime did not match the witness description and that the jailhouse recordings were not admissions but misconstrued to look that way.

“It just doesn’t make sense,” Holgate said.

“All the evidence pointed and linked Mr. Lloyd but because he put himself there,” said Assistant District Attorney Steven de Lemos in his closing. “He talked too much.”

Any inconsistencies in Murphy’s description of his assailant during the May 30, 2008 robbery were a result of tunnel vision from having a gun pointed in his face, de Lemos said — a common occurrence, according to detectives.

And Murphy’s testimony only alerted police to the crime happening, de Lemos said; it was when Lloyd bragged about it that police investigated him.

Then there was the physical evidence, de Lemos said, including the gun and mask identical to the one described by the victim found on Lloyd days after the robbery.

Lloyd’s admissions on the jailhouse recordings are clear, de Lemos said, adding, “An innocent person doesn’t talk like that.”

The DA discredited defense alibi testimony as neither covering the hours of the actual crime nor credible.

“They’re lying and they’re trying to cover for him,” de Lemos said.

The jury convened at about 2 p.m. Wednesday, returning a guilty verdict shortly before 4 p.m.

After a short recess, jurors then heard the first testimony in the punishment phase of the trial, including a patrol car video of Lloyd cursing at police during an arrest for public intoxication on Oct. 17, 2008.

The arrest revoked Lloyd’s bond on the earlier robbery charge.

Lloyd also faces a second charge of felony retaliation at a later date for the incident after officers alleged Lloyd threatened them while in custody, saying he would shoot the next New Braunfels policemen he saw.

Sentencing continues today at 9 a.m. in the Comal County Courthouse Annex.