Login | November 26, 2020

11th District affirms bank robbery by arson case

Legal News Reporter

Published: November 2, 2020

The 11th District Court of Appeals has affirmed the convictions of a motorcycle helmet-clad defendant accused of robbing a Willoughby bank with a can of gasoline.
Jabrown R. Parks was convicted by a Lake County Common Pleas Court jury of aggravated burglary, attempted aggravated arson and tampering with evidence. He was sentenced to a total 22 years in prison and was also declared a violent offender and an arson offender.
In July 2018, Jabrown doused the counter and tellers with gasoline – threatening to set one on fire – and demanded money. He left in a white Lexus. Police saw the car and a chase ensued. The Lexus lost the police but not before they secured the license plate number. The car was found burning in a residential neighborhood.
On appeal, Jabrown argued the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress which alleged the initial stop was illegal.
The trial court found that the initial stop was a permissible investigatory stop during which the officers drew their guns and handcuffed the occupants of the car for officer safety. The court also found that Jabrown’s statements during that initial stop, before he was read his rights, were not a result of an interrogation, and as such, Miranda is inapplicable.
The trial court also found that although Jabrown was not under arrest, the officers had reasonable suspicion to believe he was involved in the bank robbery. As for the seizure of Jabrown’s clothes and cell phone, the court found that the items were in plain view and were also seized under exigent circumstances to prevent the destruction of evidence.
Appellate Judge Thomas R. Wright noted in his 3-0 opinion that police had been staking out a residence identified as the home of the owner of the Lexus, the vehicle used in the robbery, who police Det. David Burrington believed was the bank robber and had an hour earlier doused a bank teller with gasoline before leading the police on a high-speed chase.
“The Wickliffe police had relayed that the driver looked like the registered owner,” Wright said. “After losing the police, the driver abandoned the car, and it was found burning in a residential backyard in a nearby town. When the car transporting Jabrown arrived at the residence, police could not see inside the car due to a heavy window tint. The officers determined that an investigative detention of the occupants was appropriate. Based on the facts known to them, the officers had an objectively reasonable and particularized suspicion that justified the investigative seizure to determine whether the occupants of the car were involved with the robbery.
“Thus, Jabrown’s initial detention in the driveway for an investigatory stop was objectively reasonable since stopping the car to investigate the robbery soon after the car involved in the high-speed chase was found burning was what reasonable and prudent officers would do under the circumstances. Moreover, based on Burrington’s testimony, the officers’ brandishing of their weapons was a reasonable safety precaution at this juncture because they were seeking suspects after a violent robbery and high-speed chase, and they could not see into the car to determine who was inside or whether the occupants were armed.”
The appellate court also rejected the argument that Jabron should have been let go once they learned that he was not Anthony Parks, the owner of the white Lexis.
“According to Burrington, Jabrown, while exiting the car, made incriminating
statements, by telling (his passenger) that he was sorry,” Wright said. “Burrington testified that Jabrown also directed (the passenger) to tell the police that she had just picked him up from the rec center. Burrington perceived this as an attempt by Jabrown to establish an alibi.
“Further, Burrington said that Jabrown fit the physical description of the suspect as a thin male who was approximately six feet tall and that during his initial detention, the police also learned that Jabrown was on federal probation for bank robbery. These facts collectively provided the police with reasonable suspicion to further detain Jabrown to continue their investigation.”
Eleventh District judges Cynthia Westcott Rice and Mary Jane Trapp concurred that the trial court’s judgment should be affirmed.
The case is cited State v. Parks, 2020-Ohio-4524.