No-show robbery suspect convicted

Jul. 10, 2014 @ 07:08 PM

A 56-year-old Henderson resident was found guilty in Vance County Superior Court on Thursday of robbing the Bank of America on Garnett Street.

Johnnie Mack, of 316 Gary St., was not in court for his trial Thursday morning, so Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour did not issue a sentence.

Assistant District Attorney Allison Capps, who prosecuted the case, said a warrant for Mack’s arrest was issued, and he will be sentenced upon apprehension.

Mack did not show up for court on Thursday morning, but Baddour deemed his absence voluntary and continued with trial.

Around 11 a.m., Mack’s lawyer, Scott Hamilton, received a phone call that the defendant was admitted to Granville Health System at about 8 a.m.

A mistrial was declared in Mack’s May trial after he was hospitalized for diabetes-related complications and missed two days of court.

“This is a pattern of behavior,” Capps said. “We ran into the same exact issue in May. We still believe his absence is voluntary and intentional.”

Baddour determined Mack’s absence was still voluntary. .

Defendants have a constitutional right to be present at all stages of the trial unless their absence is determined by a judge to be voluntary, and the court deemed Mack’s absence in May involuntary.

Double jeopardy — the unlawful prosecution of a person twice for the same offense — does not apply in this case because the grand jury indicted Mack for attempted common-law robbery, according to Capps.

When the grand jury indicted him a second time, it was for common-law robbery, which is a separate charge.

Witnesses for the state, including the only bank teller working when the robbery occurred, testified Thursday that they saw Mack in the bank around 4:15 p.m. Sept. 27, 2013.

They testified that he was wearing a short red-brown wig, sunglasses, one earring, a gray-stripped shirt and jeans with a red pattern on the back packet and carrying a straw pocketbook.

The bank teller, Catalina Wood, said he approached her counter and asked, “Do you have a family?”

She said she didn’t respond, and he asked her again, but she still didn’t respond.

She said he handed her a note telling her to give him all her money. She said she took the pocketbook from him and began to put money in it.

Without the man noticing, she said she placed a money packet with a GPS tracker inside.

The tracking device, which immediately notified the Henderson Police Department and Bank of America of the robbery, led officers to 316 Gary St., Henderson.

Henderson police officers who testified for the state said Mack was wearing the jeans with a red pattern on the back pocket, and they found a brown wig in the Gary Street apartment.

One officer said he saw Mack throw away a yellow plastic bag in the curbside trashcan. When officers removed the bag, they found a black and white stripped shirt inside.

According to the officers’ testimony, police discovered the tracking device and about $2,700 cash in the stove at 316 Gary St.

The tracking device, which immediately notified the Henderson Police Department and Bank of America of the robbery, led officers to 316 Gary St., Henderson.

Officers arrested Mack in less than an hour after the incident occurred.

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.