A preliminary hearing in criminal court on Jan. 19 determined that there is enough evidence to proceed in the case against Sean Thomas King, 36, the man accused of several armed robberies in NELA in November, and Sabrina Casillas, 44, who has been charged with driving the getaway car. The pair is due back in court on Feb. 2.
Mr. King remains in custody on $1.65 million bail. Ms. Casillas remains in custody on $350,000 bail.
Police testified at the preliminary hearing that after Ms. Casillas was arrested and read her rights, she told them that she and Mr. King were living in her car, a Toyota Corolla, and that Mr. King had committed the robberies because he needed money to survive. Police also testified that Ms. Casillas said Mr. King had told her he was going to get food at some of the robbery locations but, at times, came back with no food or came back with money instead of food.
LAPD officers who testified at the preliminary hearing gave details from their investigations:
At a 76 gas station in Eagle Rock that was hit, a worker faked a seizure when he saw the robber in order to fall back and activate the panic alarm. The robber fled with no money.
At the robbery of a KFC in Highland Park, the cashier told police he froze when confronted by the robber, unable to move a muscle. For several tense seconds, the cashier and robber stared at each other, and then the robber fled.
At the robbery of a Pizza Hut in Highland Park, the cashier thought the robber’s demand was a joke until he showed a gun, at which point she handed over $80.
During the robbery of the CVS in Eagle Rock, police said the cashier was finishing up with a customer when the robber demanded money, but the register was closed because the customer had used a credit card. When the cashier explained that only a manger could open the register, the robber demanded money again and was told again that only a manager could open the register. The robber then demanded bottles of cologne behind the counter. The cashier handed over several bottles and the robber left with them.
One of the robberies was a stick up of a man who had just filled up his car at a gas station in Highland Park. The victim reported to police that the robber had a gun and told him to hand over his money “or I’ll shoot you.” The victim handed over about $150.
At the robbery of a Thai restaurant in Highland Park, police said that a worker saw the robber on the sidewalk and tried to quickly lock the door, but the robber overpowered her, pushed her to the register and demanded money, counting down from five. She gave him the money before he got to “one.”
In two of the robberies, the preliminary trial could not establish that a gun was used, so use-of-gun charges were dismissed in those instances.