Alleged member of violent robbery crew withdraws guilty pleas
A second alleged member of a violent out-of-state robbery crew has withdrawn his guilty pleas in two Franklintown-area home invasions during which a man was shot and two teenagers were bound, gagged and beaten.
Leonard C. Hayes III, 20, of Fairfax, Va., was scheduled to be sentenced Monday morning in York County Court. He pleaded guilty Jan. 23 to counts of burglary and conspiracy to commit robbery, aggravated assault and burglary.
Instead, Hayes withdrew his guilty pleas and instead will take his two criminal cases to trial, according to court records.
Rico Carty Holmes II — the purported ringleader of the crew — withdrew his guilty pleas in the cases in March. Holmes, 25, of Walter Reed Army base in Bethesda, Md., had pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder, robbery, burglary and related offenses.
Senior deputy prosecutor Jonathan Blake has said the law generally lets criminal defendants withdraw guilty pleas before they are sentenced.
Blake also has said the prosecution is ready to take the cases to trial.
The background: According to state police Trooper Jonathan Colarusso, Carty and his accomplices entered a Franklintown apartment on South Baltimore Street about 12:30 a.m. Dec. 8, 2013.
The gun-wielding men surrounded Kevin Gachelin while the victim was sleeping and beat him, court documents state.
Gachelin, then 24, struggled with his attackers and managed to escape, but not before being shot at least twice in the lower back by Holmes, police said. He also suffered a head injury during the attack.
Gachelin told state police he and Holmes had been in a number of verbal and physical fights in the weeks leading up to the home invasion, stemming from an alleged attack on one of Gachelin's acquaintances by Holmes, documents state.
Teens terrorized: Less than an hour before Gachelin was shot, two 17-year-olds were watching television at a home on Whiskey Spring Road in Franklin Township when four men walked through the unlocked front door wielding baseball bats, according to Northern York County Regional Police.
The men forced the teens to get on the floor and yelled for them to shut up and stay on the ground, police said.
The teens were punched, their hands and feet were bound with duct tape, and their mouths and eyes were covered with tape, according to police.
The group stole six firearms and 5,000 rounds of ammunition from the home, police said.
Assault rifles: Taken were three bolt-action rifles, plus three assault rifles — an AK-47 and two AR-15s, police said. The weapons and ammunition belonged to the father of one of the teen victims, police said.
One of the teens told police he recognized Holmes' voice, and said Holmes had attended a party at the Whiskey Spring Road home a few weeks earlier.
While there, Holmes saw the firearm collection, according to police.
Co-defendants: One crew member is already serving state prison for the two attacks.
Joseph Tyrone Henderson Jr., 19, of Alexandria, Va., pleaded guilty Nov. 17 to conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, burglary and conspiracy to commit burglary in the Gachelin case, and to robbery, burglary, conspiracy and unlawful restraint in the robbery case and was sentenced to six to 12 years in state prison.
Hayes has a pretrial conference scheduled for Aug. 17, court records state.
The fourth co-defendant, Andre Jamal Highsmith, 20, of Alexandria, Va., has a pretrial conference scheduled for Aug. 11.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com.