CROCKETT, TX (KTRE) - A Houston County jury only needed 15 minutes to convict one of four suspects in the Dec. 17, 2015 robbery of the Lovelady State Bank Thursday.
Jury selection in Demetrius Wheeler's trial started Tuesday morning, according to a press release from the Houston County District Attorney's Office. He was found guilty of first-degree felony aggravated robbery.
Wheeler, 27, of Houston, was the driver of a red Dodge Dart that was abandoned in Trinity after a chase that started at Tantaboque Bottom shortly after the Lovelady State Bank was robbed, the press release stated.
"Allus Hubbard, Alonso Irving and Ryan Scott were the three armed and masked individuals who entered Lovelady State Bank at approximately 10:30 a.m. on December 17, 2015," the press release stated. "They entered the bank with guns drawn."
Hubbard went to the left side of the bank lobby, and he subdued all of the employees he encountered, the press release stated. Irving did the same on the right side of the bank's lobby.
"Mr. Scott repeatedly struck the teller with his pistol and demanded the money while forcing the teller towards the back of the bank," the press release stated. "When Mr. Scott saw the bank's bookkeeper on the phone, he released the teller and grabbed the bookkeeper. He struck her in the head with his pistol and forced her back to the teller window to get the money that was in the drawer there."
At that point, the three men quickly left the bank, got into a dark four-door sedan, and headed south toward Trinity, the press release stated. When they got to Tantaboque Bottom, Hubbard and Scott switched vehicles, getting into the Dodge Dart drive by Wheeler.
A bank employee who had been following the dark sedan saw the red Dodge pull out onto State Highway 19 and was suspicious, the press release stated. Because he believed the robbers had switched cars, he started following the Dodge Dart. The whole time, the bank employee was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher.
"Trinity is as far as they got before Sheriff's Deputy Wayne Huffman spotted the red Dodge," the press release stated. "After a short car chase, all three robbers ran from the red car but only two got away. Allus Hubbard was apprehended after a short foot chase."
During the trial, Hubbard testified about the roles he and the other men played in the robbery, the press release. He named the other robbers, and identified Wheeler as the getaway driver, the press release stated.
"[Hubbard] told the jury that Mr. Irving was wearing a grey bandana over his face and had Nike gloves on," the press release stated. "The security video from the bank confirmed that one of the robbers had on Nike gloves and a grey bandana. DNA testing confirmed that Alonso Irving's DNA was on both the gloves and the grey bandana that were found in a black sports bag in a field close to where Mr. Hubbard was apprehended."
Hubbard also told jurors that Wheeler was the driver of the Dodge Dart, the press release stated. Wheeler's DNA was found on a water bottle and a washrag found in the vehicle.
Andrea Castle, Wheeler's ex-girlfriend, testified that the red Dodge Dart was her car, but Wheeler had been driving that day.
When Texas Ranger Steven Jester processed the scene where Hubbard was found, he found a black sports bag in a field close to where Hubbard was taken into custody, the press release stated. Jeter testified that he found two handguns, two bandanas - one red and one gray, three pairs of gloves, including a pair of Nike gloves, and other articles of clothing.
"Mr. Hubbard's testimony along with the DNA evidence was enough to convince the jury of Mr. Wheeler's guilt,' the press release stated. "Mr. Wheeler elected to have the judge assess punishment and the sentencing has been set for August 11, 2017."
A Houston County jury found Irving guilty of first-degree felony aggravated robbery on May 3.