Attorneys speak for teen robbers

Sentencing adjourned until 15 October

Three of the four attorneys for the
teens who pleaded guilty to robbing Domino’s Pizza in Savannah on 3 June urged
Justice Algernon Smith on Friday to impose suspended or partially suspended
sentences. The judge said he preferred to hear the facts and mitigation, then
read the detailed social inquiry reports. He set sentencing for Friday, 15
October.

The defendants were returned to
custody, where they have been since their arrests, around 19 June. They are
Anastasia Anasia Watson, Julissa Monique Avila, Addie Shanice Haylock and Ariel
Rendie McLaughlin.

Crown Counsel Elisabeth Lees
outlined the facts, many of which have already been reported. She said the
three girls entered the store with faces covered and carrying machetes, while
McLaughlin drove them from the scene.

Ms Lees read from the statements of
the two staff members. One said she heard someone ask, “Where’s the ——
money?” When she went to call 911, a machete was held to her throat. She saw
someone hold a machete to her co-worker’s throat also. The robbers were then
told where the bank bag was, as only coins were in the cash drawer.

The four were jointly charged with
stealing $366 and two litres of soda and putting the employees in fear of being
subjected to force.

All defendants were 17 when they
committed the daytime robbery. Avila and Watson turned 18 at Fairbanks Women’s
Prison. Haylock turned 18 on 4 October. McLaughlin will not be 18 until
December, Attorney John Furniss told the court. He said this fact would make
McLaughlin ineligible for a suspended sentence and he asked the judge to
consider probation.

The attorneys said their clients
were genuinely remorseful and now realised the seriousness of their offending.

When Justice Smith asked whose idea
the robbery was, Attorney Karin Martinez-Thompson explained that it stemmed
from a conversation between Watson, Avila and McLaughlin, who were all living
in the same residence. They then contacted Haylock. The plan was hatched in the
morning and carried out around 1.30pm.

She said Watson had faced hardships
her first 12 years that no young person should ever have to face. At 13, she
was placed under a court protection order with the National Council of
Voluntary Organisations, and the next three years were the only time she had
any sense of normalcy. Due to age limits, she became homeless a week before she
turned 17.

Mr. Furniss said McLaughlin got
into conflict with his mother, who put him out of the house because he was
staying out late and not complying with her instructions.

Attorney Ben Tonner said Haylock
obtained Caymanian status when she came here at age 14, but if she received a
sentence of 12 months or more, it could be revoked.

Attorney Lucy Organ said Avila
became depressed after her brother, uncle and cousin went missing at sea and
are now presumed dead.

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