Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Trial Day two

Day 2 of the trial resumes this morning.

The case is being tried by the "Steves" i.e. Steve DeLemos as lead attorney and Steven Harkins (a/k/a Sharkey)

Give 'em heck guys.

First day of testimony in hotel robbery trial


In the first day of testimony, prosecutors called a dozen witnesses Tuesday, making a case in the robbery trial of Harold Lee Lloyd.

Lloyd, 27, of New Braunfels, is charged with first-degree felony aggravated robbery in an alleged incident at Rodeway Inn off I-35 in New Braunfels on May 30, 2008.

If convicted by the jury of nine men and three women, Lloyd could face anywhere from five to 99 years in prison. 207th District Judge Charles Ramsay is presiding.

Assistant District Attorney Steven de Lemos called the hotel clerk on duty the night of the incident to the stand Tuesday. He also produced jailhouse recordings of conversations between Lloyd and his common-law wife that prosecutors allege are Lloyd’s admissions of guilt.

In Tuesday testimony, police said they received a tip that Lloyd had been bragging about robbing the hotel. New Braunfels officers arrested Lloyd just days after the incident in possession of a .45 caliber Ruger handgun, an empty clip in his pocket and a backpack with a mask and bandana similar to witness descriptions of what was worn by the man who robbed the Rodeway Inn.

In his opening statement, Lloyd’s defense attorney, Willard Holgate of Austin, asked jurors to “view the evidence closely,” and said that his client never admitted to the robbery.

SUB: The testimony

First on the stand Tuesday was David Lee Murphy, night clerk at the hotel on the night of the robbery.

Murphy thought it was a joke when a black male with a “gangster rapper look” — in a dark skullcap and blue bandana — entered the hotel lobby in the early morning hours of May 30, 2008.

Then the man pulled a gun.

“He came rushing the counter,” Murphy said.

Murphy warned the would-be robber about a surveillance camera and said there wasn’t much money in the cash register.

“How much you got?” Murphy reported the man saying.

And as Murphy counted out the bills, the man slid across the counter and grabbed the money, Murphy said.

The assailant left with less than $300, Murphy said.

The lobby surveillance cameras were not working at the time of the robbery.

Police arrived moments later but did not make any arrests that night.

On the stand Tuesday, Murphy said he could not identify the masked man.

“I couldn’t tell if it was my own brother,” he said.

But Murphy was able to identify the .45 caliber Ruger as well as the blue bandana police found in Lloyd’s possession just days after the robbery. Murphy said he wasn’t sure about the pattern on the Spider Man skullcap also found in the backpack, but said it was the same kind of head covering worn by the assailant.

In his cross examination, defense counsel Hogarth attacked inconsistencies in Murphy’s description of the robber as tall and thin, or about 5 foot 9 inches tall and 180 pounds.

Holgate asked Lloyd to stand up and show his tall, sturdy build.

Lloyd’s onetime neighbor, Brian Grider, took the stand and described how Lloyd liked to wear his .45 caliber on his hip and bragged about the robbery after it was reported.

Grider said Lloyd even tried to convince Grider to be the driver on his next job.

“It’s easy money,” Grider alleged Lloyd told him.

Fearing for his safety, Grider called police.

Prosecutors showed police video footage of Lloyd’s June 1, 2008 arrest. Lloyd was one of three passengers in a Mitsubishi Galant pulled over for a faulty taillight at a Tetco gas station on FM 306 after days of surveillance.

The driver of the car, Spencer Ervin, 31, was arrested on charges of drunken driving. Another passenger, Mac Jim White, 33, was arrested on charges of marijuana possession and had outstanding warrants.

Cindi Harding, 22, another passenger, was arrested on charges of marijuana possession. Harding, who was on probation for marijuana possession at the time, is the cousin of Grider, the neighbor who called police to alert them about Lloyd’s bragging about the crime.

A search of the car produced the .45 Ruger under Lloyd’s seat. Officers found an empty clip of the gun in Lloyd’s pocket following his arrest. No ammunition was found in the vehicle.

In fierce cross-examination Tuesday, defense attorney Holgate grilled Grider about longstanding gripes between the two neighbors.

“You don’t like blacks?” Holgate said.

“I didn’t say that,” Grider answered.

Holgate pointed to a time when Grider had flown a Confederate flag in front of his house and refused to take it down when Lloyd had asked.

Holgate also suggested that Grider only fingered Lloyd to try and take heat off of his cousin, Harding.

SUB: Audio evidence

With the jury in another room, defense attorney Hogarth argued to exclude audio recordings of conversations between Lloyd and his common-law wife, Cheryl McCoy.

Hogarth said that investigators misled McCoy with false promises of leniency for Lloyd if he admitted the crime and named his accomplice who allegedly drove the getaway car during the incident.

Judge Ramsay ruled the evidence admissible.

Visitors and detainees are told that they are being recorded during all jail visits.

In the recordings, McCoy is heard urging Lloyd to cooperate with investigators and give up the name of his accomplice in exchange for a lighter sentence.

Prosecutors said the recordings prove that McCoy lied to detectives in the case.

“I know exactly who it was, but I told the detectives I didn’t,” McCoy said on a recording dated June 7, 2008.

In a recorded conversation on June 10, McCoy urges Lloyd to plead his character and the fact that he has no criminal history in the case.

Lloyd replied on tape: “That’s the case … that’s what I done.”

Prosecutors will continue their case this morning at 9 a.m. in the Comal County Courthouse Annex.