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Opening statements begin in bank robbery trial

Alleged robbers fled to Los Angeles and tossed money out the car windows, prosecutor says

Posted: January 10, 2014 4:53 p.m.
Updated: January 10, 2014 4:53 p.m.

SAN FERNANDO — For Deputy District Attorney Moira Curry, the case of three men accused of robbing a bank in Canyon Country and leading police on a high-speed chase to Los Angeles shows what happens to “the best laid plans of mice and men.”

Delivering her opening statement in San Fernando Superior Court on Friday morning, Curry said the robbery of a Bank of America branch on Soledad Canyon Road on Sept. 12, 2012, was premeditated and planned.

“The best laid plans of mice and men go awry, and that is what happened in this case,” she said.

Curry said the evidence will show that two of the men on trial Friday — Terion Lamarr Collins and Lavelle Mosley — entered into the bank that September morning and demanded cash from frightened tellers before fleeing the scene in a waiting vehicle.

The two, along with another suspect, later switched cars behind a nearby business before calmly leaving the scene in a Volvo SUV that was driven by the third suspect on trial Friday, Phillip Ely, Curry alleged.

Curry said the money that was taken during the robbery also contained a tracking device, which revealed the path of the Volvo as it wound its way down Highway 14 to Interstate 210 before making its way to downtown Los Angeles, all the while pursued by a collection of police vehicles.

During the police pursuit, the Volvo stopped several times, Curry said. The first time it stopped, off Interstate 210 near Yarnell Street in Sylmar, Collins exited the vehicle and fled, only to be later apprehended by police, Curry said.

The second time it stopped, also off Interstate 210, another suspect fled the vehicle, according to Curry. That suspect remains at large.

With only two people left in the Volvo — Ely the driver and Mosley the passenger — Curry said the chase continued to an area of Los Angeles which is known to be territory for the Rollin 40s Crips street gang.

It was in this area that Mosley began throwing money obtained in the robbery out the window of the vehicle, Curry alleged.

Curry said evidence recovered from the robbery includes the GPS tracker that was with the stolen money, discarded clothing that matches what was worn by the robbers during the incident, according to surveillance footage, and DNA evidence on some of the discarded clothes.

While Curry’s opening statement portrayed Ely as a willing accomplice and getaway driver, his lawyer painted a different picture, that of a young man, out of work, who became an unwitting part of events far beyond his control.

Ely’s lawyer said his client was told he could receive $50 if he picked up someone near the bank on the morning of the robbery. He received the Volvo SUV, loaded up with gas, to carry out the errand.

“He’s totally caught off guard when three men come running into his car when he was only expecting one person,” the lawyer said.

Afraid of what the passengers might do to him, Ely followed their orders and kept driving, the lawyer said.

“He doesn’t know what they are capable of,” he said. “He doesn’t know that.”
On Twitter @LukeMMoney


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