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FRIDAY, JANUARY 5, 2007
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Crime spree
ends in arrests

2 pizza driver robbers attempt carjacking, then beat senior
couple with cane, police say

By Seth Burkett
sburkett@decaturdaily.com 340-2355

A Decatur man and his roommate face multiple felony charges after filing a stolen vehicle report to cover up a crime spree, Decatur police said Thursday.

The two, sought here in connection with a series of robberies to Domino's pizza delivery drivers, allegedly followed up an attempted carjacking in Moulton by attacking a senior couple in their Franklin County home Tuesday night, beating the husband so badly with a cane that his face will require reconstructive surgery, authorities said.

Adam Dwayne Lucas, 22, and Ira Joe Harris Jr., 19, both of 1640 Oxmore Flint Road S.W., Apartment E-6, remained in Morgan County Jail on Thursday, each held on two charges of first-degree robbery. In addition, Lucas faces a charge of filing a false police report.

Decatur police Sgt. Rick Archer said Lucas filed a report Wednesday claiming someone had stolen his 1999 model Chevrolet Suburban, which Lucas and Harris had abandoned the previous night in Franklin County while being chased by deputies.

In the report, Lucas said he met up with three men he didn't know and drove them to a party somewhere in Hartselle, where they drank alcohol. He said he woke up in his apartment with his keys and vehicle missing, unable to remember anything else about the night. Lucas provided names and detailed clothing descriptions of the three men who accompanied him to the party.

"It never ceases to amaze me how people who involve themselves in some sort of criminal activity will file the most laughable reports and believe that the police will be oblivious to all the discrepancies in the report," Archer said. "I guess we're not as dumb as some people think. When we saw that report, there were many red flags, and we knew it was worth taking a closer look at."

A gold Suburban tied everything together.

A pizza delivery driver robbed by a masked man with a handgun at Studio Nine on Monday saw the gunman sitting in a gold Suburban prior to the robbery.

Another driver, robbed at Albany Landing Apartments on Tuesday, saw a gold Suburban leaving the scene.

Attempted carjacking

Following the 5 p.m. robbery, Lucas and Harris are believed to have traveled to Moulton, where the Suburban was seen at the scene of an attempted carjacking, Archer said.

A black male wearing a black hooded sweat shirt entered a woman's vehicle in the parking lot of IGA grocery in Moulton and demanded she drive, Moulton Police Chief Lyndon McWhorter said.

When he jumped into her car, she hadn't put her keys in the ignition yet, so she didn't move at all.

"He just said, 'Drive! Drive!' a couple of times, and that's as far as it went," McWhorter said.

"When she did not, he hit her on the head with a pistol. It turns out the pistol was plastic and broke into pieces. When she started screaming, he left the car and got in a Suburban."

Franklin County Sheriff Larry Plott said Lucas and Harris were responsible later that night for a home invasion on Franklin County 74 that sent a couple in their mid-60s to Russellville Hospital after being beaten with a cane.

"They basically saw the victims at a supermarket in Russellville and followed them home. They pulled in the driveway behind them and asked for directions and asked to use the phone," Plott said.

Home invasion attack

Inside the house, Lucas attacked the man with a cane and then struck his wife, leaving Harris free to steal a purse, Plott said.

"I talked to the victim's wife (Wednesday) night, and he's going to have to have reconstructive surgery on his face, maybe put some plates in. They did a lot of damage. And the injuries on the female were on the arms, defensive wounds," Plott said.

Deputies responding to the call encountered a gold Suburban on Waterloo Road and pursued it.

Police chase

"It's a real crooked road. I'm going to say (chase speeds got up to) over 70 miles per hour, which is real fast for that area. It's a two-lane road and curvy," Plott said.

The suspects threw stolen property out along the way, Plott said.

Russellville police also converged on the chase, which entered their city limits before Lucas and Harris bailed from the vehicle, Plott said.

A foot chase ensued.

"Because of darkness and so on, they were able to get out of the area and eventually end up back in Morgan County," Plott said.

Archer said Lucas and Harris obtained a ride back to Decatur from someone they knew. The next day, Lucas filed the report.

A black ski mask was among the items recovered in Franklin County after the vehicle was abandoned, Archer said.

Police believe the gun used in the Decatur robberies is the same plastic gun found shattered around the victim's car in Moulton.

Dummy gun

It appeared to be a dummy gun used by the military, Archer said. Lucas recently got out of the service and had some military-related items, he said.

"It was made out of hard plastic, but it had all the working parts of a 9 mm and that's what it's designed to look like," Archer said.

Archer said the vehicle's color is actually listed as pewter, not gold, but it looks that way.

"It really depends on who you're talking to. Depending on the time of day and the lighting, it can look gold or it can look silver or it can look pewter," he said.

Police are now checking to see if Lucas and Harris may have been involved in anything prior to the two-day rampage.

"As in any case, whenever we arrest someone who's been involved in more than one robbery, we always go back and search our records and see if there's any possibility that they've been involved in other activities," Archer said.

Archer said it's fortunate police got to the two quickly.

"There was no doubt in my mind that they would have continued. And obviously the violence was escalating. In Moulton, they got violent there and broke this item that resembled a firearm. When they got to Franklin County, they used whatever they could find as a weapon," Archer said.

Delivery driver robberies

"Also, with these pizza delivery drivers, they don't carry a large amount of cash, so I think we would have seen a higher quantity of robberies because they weren't getting as much cash," he said.

Archer said the whole take from the Decatur robberies totaled less than $50.

Daniel de Quesada, the 25-year-old deliveryman robbed in a stairwell at Studio Nine on Monday, quit his job Tuesday. With a wife and child at home, he didn't need to run the risk of being robbed, de Quesada said.

Should Lucas and Harris make their respective $20,500 and $20,000 bonds, Moulton and Franklin County plan to arrest them.

Charges

Moulton police intend to charge both with first-degree robbery and attempted theft.

"We're looking at also charging them with carjacking. Warrants will be issued after I talk to the district attorney," McWhorter said.

Plott said Franklin County has already issued warrants charging Lucas with first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, third-degree theft and two counts of second-degree assault.

A forthcoming warrant will charge Harris with first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary and third-degree theft. Daily staff writer Kristen Bishop contributed to this story.

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