Teen in armed robberies says guilty to lesser charge

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Vicksburg teenager arrested with four other teens last year after armed robberies in the city has pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of robbery.

Conti Tillis, 17, 1110 Fayette St., entered his plea in Warren County Circuit Court and was sentenced by Circuit Judge M. James Chaney to five years in prison, plus $522.50 in restitution and court costs.

Tillis was arrested in August. The other teens, including former Warren Central High School basketball standout Sha’Kayla Caples, 19, 414 Ford Road; Deshawn Williams, 18, 119-B Elizabeth Circle; Jacorey Wright, 17, 1405 Locust St.; and Blake Reed, 18, 2501 Culkin Road, Apt. G8, were arrested in May.

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In January, charges against Caples were not presented to the grand jury after she agreed to provide evidence about the March 15, 2009, shooting death of 25-year-old Antonio Turner. Turner was sitting in a parked car on Alcorn Drive when he was shot around 1 a.m. A cousin of Caples is one of the defendants in the case.

All the teens charged with the robberies were believed members of what has been called the “K-3 gang.” Former police Chief Tommy Moffett called the gang “extremely dangerous” at the time of the arrests of Williams, Wright and Reed.

Holdups were reported by pedestrians at Oak and Klein streets, on Mulberry Street, at 510 Berryman Road, at City Front and at Drummond and Mulvihill streets. A strong-armed robbery was reported at Crawford and Farmer streets.

The victim of the Mulberry Street robbery was beaten and required medical attention at River Region Medical Center.

Also in Warren County Circuit Court this week were sentencings for two men convicted in separate trials.

William Little, 51, Askew Ferry Road, Edwards, was sentenced Thursday by Judge Isadore Patrick to serve 10 years in prison and pay fines, victim assistance fund fees and court costs of $2,822.50.

Little was convicted of child sexual molestation Feb. 23 after a two-day trial. The six-man, six-woman jury deliberated for about an hour.

District Attorney Ricky Smith said he had recommended the maximum 15-year sentence for Little, who was defended by Vicksburg attorney Eugene Perrier, but that Little would probably serve at least 85 percent of his sentence because of the violent nature of the offense.

William Vinzant, convicted March 23 of vehicle theft and burglary of a dwelling, was sentenced Friday by Chaney to life in prison.

Vinzant, 49, 7107 Mississippi 27, was tried and convicted as a habitual offender. He had been convicted of two other felony offenses, one classified as a crime of violence, and had served at least a year in prison prior to his most recent conviction.

The previous record means he is not eligible for any reduction or suspension of his sentence, or probation or parole.

Vinzant was arrested Dec. 9, 2008, and defended by Vicksburg attorney Jerry Campbell. He had been convicted of armed robbery in Warren County in September 1996 and of burglary in Georgia in 1991.

In other Warren County Circuit Court action:

• Ernest Atkins, 19, 901 Speed St., was found guilty of violating probation and sentenced by Patrick to the Mississippi Department of Corrections Restitution Center in Hinds, LeFlore or Jackson counties to pay $1,722.50, followed by four years of probation. Atkins was arrested July 21, 2008 for burglary of a business.

• Gabriel M. Brewer, 37, 328 Woodham Road, pleaded guilty to driving under the influence, third or subsequent arrest, and was sentenced by Chaney to three years in prison followed by two years of probation, plus fines and fees of $2,622.50. Brewer was arrested Aug. 27.

• Demetris T. Ford, 22, 115 Abraham Drive, was found guilty of violating probation and sentenced by Chaney to six years in prison followed by two years of probation. Ford was arrested Jan. 5, 2009, for two counts of uttering a forgery.

• Dewayne C. James, 37, 1411 East Ave., was found guilty of violating probation and sentenced by Chaney to three years in prison followed by five years of probation. James was arrested Aug. 27 for forgery.