NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - During the second day of the trial for the Nacogdoches man accused of robbing the Doches Credit Union on May 4, 2015, the man who gave the suspect a ride to Lufkin after the robbery took the stand first and said that the suspect had a large amount of cash with him that day.
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.
Andre Stearns confirmed that he was at McDonald's on the morning of the robbery and was on his way home when Hawkins flagged him down at the corner of Eliza and Character streets.
Stearns said Hawkins got in the car and told him he would pay Stearns to take him to Lufkin. Hawkins had a large amount of cash on him, Stearns said. Stearns said when he asked him where he got it, Hawkins said, "I hit a lick."
When assistant prosecutor Carrie Gilcrease asked Stearns what "hit a lick" means, he said it means you come into money you don't owe at work. He added that it doesn't necessarily mean that robbery was involved.
Stearns said he asked for $200 for the ride, and Hawkins gave him two $100 bills.
Once they were in Lufkin, Hawkins used $3,500 to buy rims at a tire store and then went to Peltier, where he tried and failed to buy a Cadillac in Stearns' name, Stearns said.
He said they then went to the Lufkin mall, where Hawkins bought a cell phone from a mall vendor. Stearns said that Hawkins also bought everything listed in Tuesday's testimony - a pair of Nike basketball shoes and a $1,800 diamond cluster ring. Stearns added that Hawkins paid cash for everything.
During Tuesday's testimony, a Nacogdoches Police detective also said that Hawkins bought a car for his girlfriend with $2,500.
Stearns said he did not know Hawkins robbed a credit union, but had a bad feeling when he saw Hawkins had so much cash and said he hit a lick.
Dan Simmons, Hawkins' defense attorney, questioned what route Stearns took to Lufkin.
Simmons asked if Stearns was the one to say hit a lick first when he was interviewed by NPD detectives, and Stearns said he said it first. Stearns confirmed he didn't ask Hawkins what he meant by hit a lick.
Stearns said when he picked Hawkins up, he ran to his car and seemed to be breathing hard.
A Footlocker employee then testified that Hawkins used a large amount of 20-dollar bills and spent more than $700 for clothes.
A man named Jerry Holcomb then testified.
Holcomb said Hawkins showed him a handgun on May 4. He saw him later at the liquor store and said Hawkins said "I'm going to get mine" and that he got $2 worth of gas and got rid of everything at Dexter White's house.
Holcomb said Hawkins wanted to buy an ounce of cocaine from him, which would run anywhere from $8,000 to $11,000. He said he didn't sell him the cocaine.
Simmons questioned Holcomb why when Detective Hall was questioning people in the area if Hawkins robbed the DCU. Hawkins said " I don't know but that sounds like something he would do," and then called Crime Stoppers on May 5. Holcomb said he didn't want police around his home because he "sells a little dope and hustles a little."
Holcomb said he did not want to testify at first and was willing to go to prison, but Gilcrease spoke with him about the victims. Simmons argued it was because he wanted to get paid by Crime Stoppers.
Kenneth Turner of Insta-Pawn in Lufkin said Hawkins came into the store in May, acting cocky, trying to buy a necklace. Turner said Hawkins tried to haggle, but there is a no-haggling policy. Turner said Hawkins had a large wad of cash with him.
Dorian Cerrato, of Peltier Chevrolet, said Hawkins came in and wanted to pay cash for a Cadillac, and put down three stacks of cash, all in $100 bills. There wasn't enough money. He also didn't have a driver's license, insurance, or credit.
Later, NPD Detective Steve Glicrease was called back to the stand.
He said that he understands "hit a lick" means to rob or steal. Steve Gilcrease said during his time with the Nacogdoches Police Department, he has heard that phrase a lot.
Steve Gilcrease said he drove the route from Eliza and Character to the Polk's Pick it up in Lufkin, and it took him 18 minutes, with current road closures and construction that was not there May 4th, saying the timeline matches up.
The surveillance video from Polk's was shown to the jury. Steve Gilcrease pointed out Hawkins wearing a white bandana and dropping a large wad of cash.
The jury was also shown surveillance video from his two trips to the tire store. Gilcrease pointed out that Hawkins has different clothes on and was pulling out multiple wads of cash from his pocket.
Alexandria Walker, who worked at JC Penney on May 4th, said Hawkins came into the store on May 4, 2015 and was loud and rambunctious. Walker said Hawkins asked what the most expensive things in the store were.
Hawkins purchased a $5 to $6,000 dollar ring from Walker who was a jewelry specialist at the time. Walker said Hawkins was adamant about her not running a credit card and didn't even try to size it or see if it fit. Walker said he was wearing a white bandana at the time.
Jordan Fenner, who worked at Foot Locker in May 2014, said he was with two customers when Hawkins came in demanding Jordan Retro 5 shoes. Fenner said Hawkins seemed to want to come in and out of the store quickly. Hawkins didn't want to ring them up. He just tried to hand him cash, but Foot Locker had to have to it in their inventory. The Hawkins tried to get out quickly, Fenner said.
Keenan Wiley, who also known as Keenan Blunt, shared a cell with Hawkins at the county jail
Wiley said Hawkins said, "I did it" when they were watching the news about the DCU robbery.
Wiley said Hawkins said he was wearing all black and that he ran behind the bank and went to Dexter White's house. Hawkins told Wiley he burnt his clothes.
Carrie Gilcrease asked if Wiley heard this information on the news, he said he didn't, Hawkins told him.
Wiley said Hawkins told him he spent the money he stole on clothes and a car.
Hawkins also allegedly told Wiley that he would find a way to cover up the money he spent in the robbery. Wiley describes Hawkins as talkative and "all over the place."
Simmons asked Wiley if he was approached or came up front with the sheriff's office about what Hawkins said, and Wiley said he came up front himself. Simmons asked if Wiley just heard gossip in the jail, which he denied.
Simmons asked Wiley if he had a history of "doing the right, and he said no. Then Simmons questioned why after committing felonies, Wiley would all of the sudden do the right thing.
Simmons and Wiley continued to go back and forth discussing Wiley's character and intentions
Kayla Mitchell, a lieutenant with the Nacogdoches County Jail, said of the phone calls going out of the jail as well as ones in the visitation room are recorded. There are signs in the jail that say that.
Phone recording from Hawkins were played for the jury.
Some of them included him talking to bail bond people trying to give them a car in exchange for his bail. They saw him last month and asked when he got a car because he didn't have one last month and said, "Y'all know why I'm in here" referring to the robbery and then added, "If y'all get me out of here I'm going to make it rain on y'all."
In another phone call, Hawkins told someone, "I got money, but it put up. I got people looking for my money," and then he said, "They mad they can't find money." Hawkins followed that up by saying, "I got everything. When I get out, we're going to have a party." The person he was talking to told him to shut up and that his mouth gets him in trouble.
In another phone call, he told someone he was going to "kill Dre" referring to Andre Stearns.
He is also recorded saying, "I got that money! They can't prove anything."
During his opening statement, Simmons said he's only a few witnesses to fill in the puzzle pieces, adding that it is about quality, not quantity.
Byron Hawkins pleaded the Fifth Amendment and will not testify on his behalf at his trial.