Trial starts for Nacogdoches man accused of robbing credit union

Trial starts for Nacogdoches man accused of robbing credit union

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The trial started Tuesday for a Nacogdoches man accused of robbing the Doches Credit Union back on May 4, 2015.

According to an arrest affidavit, detectives received information that Byron Hawkins was responsible in the robbery. They began working leads and learned he had been picked up in the area just minutes after the robbery and was given a ride to Lufkin, where he spent $10,000 at different businesses, according to the affidavit.

The person who gave him a ride told detectives he was sweating and out of breath when he got in the vehicle and during the ride, pulled out a wad of cash and began counting it, according to the affidavit.

The driver said he asked Hawkins where he got the money and Hawkins said, "I just hit a lick," according to the affidavit.

In her opening statements, prosecuting attorney Carrie Gilcrease stated it would be ridiculous to believe Hawkins' story.

"Doches Credit Union workers recognized the defendant, and he threatened employees," Carrie Gilcrease said.

Carrie Gilcrease went through a list of items that Hawkins bought with the stolen money and then said the evidence was burned in a house fire.

The first witness Priscilla Chalco, a Doches Credit Union teller. Chalco started by telling what she remembered.

"It was a typical Monday morning, slow," Chalco said.

Chalco said she was working with two other women at the time and that it happened across the street from Pilgrim's Pride where a lot of their workers come over.

"[I]Heard the door and this person comes in all covered up," Chalco said. "Sunglasses, hoodie, face covered with a white bandana covering [their] face. I would have never expected it to happen. It was a mans voice. He demanded money. He had a small gun. He was wearing blue gloves and the gun was in a Walmart bag."

Chalco said she was threatened and became scared. Chalco testified that  Hawkins told her not to call the cops. Chalco said he and other employees are  trained to follow directions so she pulled her drawer out and then Hawkins jumped over the counter by jumping on a chair.

"I just pointed to the door for him to leave. I felt scared," Chalco said.

Chalco said after Hawkins left, she notified her manager.

"I started crying, and I hugged her, and we locked the doors and cried," Chalco said.

Chalco said she was scared she would be held hostage, and she started thinking of her children.

Chalco said since that time she has been more alert when someone comes in wearing sunglasses, and she will ask them to take them off. She said when people come in with hoodies on, it brings back memories. Chalco then said she was scared to go back to work at first, but after counseling, she is still able to work for the credit union.

Chalco said it was not the first time she had seen Hawkins. Chalco said Hawkins came in back in September of that year for a loan and had a cell phone as collateral. Chalco said they did not accept it and normally use a car title for that. Chalco said at the time of the robbery in May she didn't know it was him, but when she heard the defendant was a suspect she recognized him.

Dan Simmons, Hawkin's defense attorney, then questioned Chalco.

Hawkins first wanted to know how much money was taken and if their was a way to identify the money. Chalco said some of the money taken was bait money, consisting of two $50 bills.

Chalco then told Carrie Gilcrease that the security cameras were not working that morning.

Cody Durwin, the custodian of records for Doches Credit Union, then talked about the security measures the employees take during robberies.

Durwin said the drawers had been balanced out, and $16,834 was missing. Durwin explained bait money. Durwin said it doesn't get handed out during normal business and employees are trained to give to include it during a robbery.

Nacogdoches Police Officer Raymond Reed then told the prosecution that he first noticed a footprint on a chair when he responded to the call. Reed said he remembered a white banana being described on robber. Reed said he also saw Hawkins several times walking in the street with similar Bandana,

Reed said It was reported two black males, wearing dark clothing were seen in neighborhood running around.

Reed said he went to a home he has responded to several times before and noticed a fresh boot print and a fire burning. Reed said in the fire, he noticed a blue-colored glove and clothing. Reed said later, a gun was found in the fire remains.

"It was odd there was clothes burning," Reed said.

Simmons asked Reed if he knew how long it had been burning to which Reed responded no longer than 15 or 20 minutes. Simmons then talks to Reed about the bandanna and said anyone could wear a white bandanna.

Officer John Berry then told his story of how he responded to the credit union and saw the fire with evidence in it. Berry said he noticed a footprint outside the building that matched the one in the chair inside. Berry said the prints allowed them to get a general direction of travel and then they found one at 801 Haywood St.

Berry said he went behind the home, found a fire, and put it out. Reed said he found a glove, dark clothing, and a black bag. Berry said there was a similar glove found inside the house as well.

Steve Gilcrease, the lead detective for the Nacogdoches Police Department, took the stand next.

Steve Gilcrease said NPD officers tracked the route, and fire was recent. He identified pictures of evidence in fire including pieces of clothing, gun, and gloves.

After the fire, Steve Gilcrease tried to get accurate count of what was missing, and he called an FBI agent.

Police were able to identify defendant after first day, Gilcrease said.

Steve Gilcrease described Hawkins as wearing brand new clothing and a nice ring

Steve Gilcrease showed Carrie Gilcrease the new Nike Jordans shoes. He said, at that point, another detective started calling stores. The search led them to the mall in Lufkin. The Nacogdoches Police detective said these shoes had only been on the market for a short while before the robbery.

He said NPD detectives went to Hibbett Sports with different lineups, and the employees identified Hawkins. Later, the detectives reviewed security camera footage from the mall that showed Hawkins at JC Penney. The surveillance video also showed Hawkins making purchases at Foot Locker and Hibbett Sports, Steve Gilcrease said.

Steve Gilcrease said he was told Hawkins also spent a lot of money on the "street." He explained the bait money was never found, but added that is "like finding money in hay stack."

A video from Hubcap and Tire Store in Lufkin video showed Hawkins buying hubcaps with a large amount of cash. Evan Griffin was also in the picture according to Steve Gilcrease. According to the video evidence, Hawkins went into the Lufkin business twice that day.
Steve Gilcrease said the first time, Hawkins spent $3,000 on rims for a Cadillac. Hawkins then went to Peltier and tried to buy a Cadillac but couldn't. After that, he went to the mall and purchased the clothing. He then spoke with Griffin and Andre Sterns. He saw Sterns in the video at a Polk's Pick-it-up and JC Penney.

During his testimony, Steve Gilcrease gave a timeline of what happened. He said at 10:15 a.m. on the morning of the robbery, Hawkins went to a Polk's Pick-it-up and got gas. He then went to the hubcap store and Peltier. Next, Hawkins went to the mall and then returned to the hubcap store in new clothing.

Steve Hawkins bought a $2,500 car from a man named Phillip Jones for his girlfriend, who was also wearing new clothes from Hibbett. The woman was also sitting on the car Hawkins bought her .

Steve Gilcrease said he has seen Hawkins' girlfriend before, and she did not usually dress that nice.

The next day, an FBI agent went over and Hawkins was drunk and yelling at detectives that he was a millionaire.

Steve Gilcrease then identified a $1,800 diamond cluster ring from JC Penney that he'd never seen Hawkins wear before.

Steve Gilcrease was then asked to point on a map of Nacogdoches to see if the timeline matched up. At that point, the defense questioned the route Hawkins allegedly took from the credit union.

When he took the stand, NPD Detective Ryan Ball said that he came back to work on May 5, 2015, and he contacted Hawkins.

"He was well dressed in expensive clothes," Ball said.

Ball explained that he had encountered Hawkins before then, and the new clothes were unusual for his character.

During his testimony, Ball also confirmed what Steve Gilcrease said. He also said that the timeline of all the surveillance video they obtained of Hawkins matches up with what Stearns told them.

At that point, the jury was show a surveillance video footage of Hawkins leaving McDonalds around the time time credit union was robbed.

Later, Edmond Griffin, one of Hawkins' acquaintances, was called to the stand. Griffin said he was at the tire shop in Lufkin when Hawkins came in and paid $3,000 in cash for a set of rims. At the time, Hawkins was with Stearns, Griffin said.

When Hawkins returned to the tire shop later that day, he changed into new clothes, including a nice watch and a ring, Griffin said. Griffin testified that Hawkins told him that he had gone shopping.

Griffin also told the jurors that Hawkins went across the street to Church's Chicken and bought a car from a man named Phillip Jones. Shortly after that, Jones came into the tire store paid and paid cash for a set of rims, Griffin said.

Continue checking back to throughout the day for more updates to this ongoing trial.

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