Man charged with aggravated robbery found guilty of theft

A two day trial for a man charged with aggravated robbery ended in a guilty verdict of the lesser offense of theft, a class C misdemeanor. James Casey was fined the maximum fine for the offense of $500. 

In closing arguments, District Attorney Allison Palmer reviewed the charge with the jury. Palmer told jurors there was no doubt that Casey was involved in the incident because he admitted to police that he was involved.

“The dispute will be over self-defense,” Palmer said.

If the jury agreed that Casey used the box cutter in self-defense, Casey would be guilty of the lesser charge of theft. If the jury determined Casey used the box cutter to retain the stolen possessions then he would be guilty of aggravated robbery.

Casey’s defense attorney Jimmy Stewart told jurors in closing arguments that Casey was not guilty of stealing, that it was the female passenger that stole the items and that Casey was not guilty of aggravated robbery because Casey had to have control of the items in order to use the box cutters to maintain them.

“Evidence shows Higgins, a younger and stronger man, tried to pull Casey out of the truck and that’s when Casey pulled out the box cutter. He was defending himself,” Stewart said.

Stewart also pointed out that the victim made the first 9-1-1 call and didn’t mention Casey having a weapon.

“Wouldn’t you say he had a weapon? Wouldn’t that be the first thing you would say?” Stewart said to jurors.

It wasn’t until the second 9-1-1 call that the victim mentioned the box cutter.

It took the jury approximately one hour to come back with a guilty verdict of the lesser charge of theft. During the punishment phase, Judge Jay Weatherby fined Casey to the maximum possible amount for the crime of $500.

Previous Story: A jury trial for James Albert Casey began Monday in 119th District Court. Casey is charged with aggravated robbery in connection to an incident that occurred at the EZ Pawn on South Bryant Blvd.

In July 2015, Casey is accused of entering into a van breaking into a woman’s van in the EZ Pawn parking lot, stealing a pack of Marlboro menthol cigarettes, a small white Bic lighter and a pair of sunglasses. According to court documents, when the victim asked Casey why he stole the items out of her van, he held up a box cutter with the blade extended and told her to come and get the property.

The victim called police and was able to give them Casey’s license plate number. He was later arrested in a motel lobby on South Bryant.

Two officers who assisted in arresting Casey took the stand Monday. One of the officers testified that the victim was able to identify Casey out of a line-up as the man who robbed and threatened her. Pictures of Casey’s truck and items that were located inside the vehicle were also presented to jurors. One of the officers was able to confirm that they did locate the box cutter, sunglasses and cigarettes inside Casey’s truck when he was arrested.

On the day of the incident, Casey told officers he grabbed the box cutter because he felt threatened. In court documents, it states a male subject, Higgins, came out of the store with a knife to assist the victim and confront Casey. Casey also told officers that he never stole the items, it was a female passenger present during the incident that actually took the items and that he could not control what his friends do.

Aggravated robbery is a first degree felony charge.