From L: John Edmonds (Father), James Edmonds (son)
Asheville, NC-- Cellphone records were key in the conviction of a father-son duo who robbed a bank, District Attorney Ron Moore said.
"You could establish that they were in the area and talking to each other before, during and after the robbery," he said.
A jury found John Burton Edmonds Jr., 59, and James Ryan Edmonds, 25, guilty of armed robbery at the conclusion of a seven-day trial in Buncombe County Superior Court.
Judge James Downs sentenced John Edmonds to at least eight years in prison, while James Edmonds received a minimum of six years. The judge dismissed charges of conspiracy to commit armed robbery for lack of evidence before the jury began deliberations.
Authorities said the Asheville pair robbed Forest Commercial Bank on Hendersonville Road in Biltmore Forest on Dec. 8, 2011.
Assistant District Attorney Chris Hess argued to the jury that John Edmonds was inside the bank posing as a customer when a masked James Edmonds came in, brandished a gun and grabbed more than $5,000 in cash.
The elder Edmonds ran after his fleeing son, pretending he was attempting to follow the robber, then tried to mislead officers about where he had gone, Hess said.
But defense attorney Robert Smith, who represented John Edmonds, maintained his client was merely a witness to the robbery and "just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Attorney Michael Macht, who represented James Edmonds, said that while authorities maintained his client left the scene in a getaway vehicle, a police dog tracked the robber through nearby woods. He told jurors the investigation was "sloppy" and targeted only the two suspects.
Hess said James Edmonds was dressed all in black except for a blue ski mask covering his head during the robbery. Police said John Edmonds gave investigators false information about what the robber was wearing, and his statements were contradicted by surveillance video and the accounts of bank workers.
Cellphone records placed James Edmonds near the bank at the time of the robbery, Hess said.
He said the testimony of the son's girlfriend was important to the case. She testified the father and son had pills and a substantial amount of cash the night following the robbery, and she was instructed by the son to get rid of some shoes that could have been implicated in the robbery.
John Edmonds was convicted in July 2012 in Buncombe County of drug trafficking and sentenced to more than eight years in prison, according to N.C. Department of Public Safety records.
Downs ruled the sentence on the armed robbery conviction is to be served concurrently with drug trafficking sentence.
Records state James Edmonds spent three months in prison following his conviction in August of obtaining property by false pretense.
Written by: Clarke Morrison, Asheville Citizen Times