crime & courts

3 robbery suspects appear in court



Three men facing preliminary charges of armed robbery appeared in court Monday for an initial hearing.

Keith Bunton, 20, Marquese Steward, 21, and Darvon Hill, 20, remained at the Monroe County Jail as of 9 p.m. Tuesday, following the reported March 16 armed robbery of a north side apartment.

A warrant was issued Friday for a fourth suspect in the incident, Anthony Rutland.

The evening of the incident, a 19-year-old woman was hanging out in her apartment with her boyfriend and her two female roommates. There was a knock at the door, and Rutland and Steward entered the residence to purchase marijuana, according to the probable cause affidavit.

The victim escorted Rutland and Steward into her bedroom to sell them a quarter pound of marijuana, the usual amount Rutland purchased from her.

As the deal was about to be carried out, Steward informed Rutland they were short some money and would obtain additional cash from the car. The victim thought this was suspicious, she later told police, since Rutland had bought the same amount from her before and had never been short money in the past.

Soon after Rutland left the room, the victim’s boyfriend stepped outside onto the balcony adjacent to the bedroom for a cigarette.

As he exited, Steward closed the door behind him. Because the door was broken, the boyfriend could not get back in from the outside.

It was just the victim and Steward inside the bedroom at that point, according to the affidavit.

"Get on the ground," the victim heard someone say from an adjacent room. The victim shut and locked her bedroom door, fearing something had gone wrong.

Commotion continued in the next room. Someone began beating upon her bedroom door.

Don’t open the door, she told Steward.

Steward opened the door, and two masked intruders, armed with guns, entered the room.

They ordered the victim to lay face-down on her bed, got on top of her and held her down, according to the probable cause affidavit.

One masked man, wearing a green hooded sweatshirt, grabbed a green duffel bag containing the victim’s marijuana.

The victim told police she recognized the mask from a Halloween party she attended and believed a man named "Keith" may have been wearing it.

Once the men had the duffel, they fled the apartment.

The victim left her bedroom and discussed the incident with her roommates. Together, they determined a total of four armed intruders entered the apartment — two rushed for the victim’s bedroom and two stayed in the living room with the roommates.

Five days after the incident, the victim identified Rutland and Steward from a photo lineup of suspects. The following day, police made contact with Rutland at Macri’s at the Depot, the deli at which he worked.

After interviewing Rutland, police placed him under arrest on preliminary charges of attempted possession of more than 30 grams of marijuana.

During the interview, police learned Rutland resided on the 1300 block of West Kirkwood Avenue with Steward and Bunton, and afterward responded to their house.

They saw a red Pontiac Grand Am pull up to the house and a man they believed matched Bunton’s description get in the passenger’s seat.

Police followed the car and stopped it near the intersection of 17th and Lincoln streets.
 
Bunton exited the car and told police he would talk with them at the Bloomington Police Department and was transported to the station. A search of the car produced a large duffel bag containing the marijuana.

Police obtained a search warrant for the residence following an initial interview with Bunton.

The search produced two white ski masks — one in Rutland’s bedroom and the other in Bunton’s closet — as well as a BB gun that appeared to have "every distinguishing look of a real semi-automatic handgun," according to the probable cause affidavit.

Small amounts of marijuana and paraphernalia were also found.

The search also led police to a fourth suspect, Hill.

Thursday evening, officers executing the search returned to the Bloomington Police Department to find Bunton still inside one of the interview rooms.

Despite the fact he requested a lawyer and one was not present at the time, he told detectives he wanted to tell the whole story as it actually happened, according to the affidavit.

Steward was the ring leader of the incident, Bunton told police, and while Steward was inside the victim’s bedroom, he, Rutland and two other men whom he only knew by their first names entered the residence, wearing masks and wielding weapons, only one of which was a real handgun.

One also had a taser, he told police.

Police made contact with Steward at his residence, according to the affidavit, and he went to the police department for an interview.

Hill was brought to the station later that evening. Steward, Bunton and Hill were arrested and preliminarily charged with armed robbery.

That evening, police reported to the Monroe County Jail, where Rutland had previously was being held on preliminary charges of possessing more than 30 grams of marijuana.

Upon arrival, it was found he had bonded out and was no longer at the jail, and a warrant for his arrest was issued.

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