Jury finds Rico Holmes guilty
Three hours and a dozen Subway sandwiches into deliberations, 12 York County jurors reached a unanimous guilty verdict Thursday on 16 of the 18 charges against Rico Carty Holmes II.
Jurors convicted Holmes, 26, on charges ranging from attempted murder and aggravated assault involving a weapon to robbery, theft and reckless endangerment. He was acquitted on one count of unlawful restraint and one count of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury.
Sentencing will take place in 90 days, allowing time for a pre-sentence investigation. Also, because Holmes was found guilty of unlawful restraint of a minor, he could be forced to register as a sex offender under Megan's Law.
"One of the charges, the unlawful restraint, if it's of a minor victim, it can be a sex offense," defense attorney Eric Delps said. "So even though ... there was no allegation of inappropriate touching, just due to the statutory interpretation — it was a minor that was unlawfully restrained by the defendant — they can order an assessment by the sexual offender board."
Delps said it is common for defendants to appeal their convictions, so he expects Holmes — who showed no visible reaction when the verdict was read — will likely do so.
"The jury made their decision, and we've got to respect their decision," Delps said.
Holmes and three other men broke into two northern York County residences in December 2013 after Holmes lost a fight to one of the victims. Acting out of retribution, the prosecution said, Holmes recruited the others to rob the homes, seeking guns from the first residence and drugs from the second. At the first home, Holmes and his cohorts bound, beat and robbed Trent Stevens — who was 17 at the time — and his girlfriend, Megan Montrose. They then stole assault rifles and ammunition from Stevens' father's gun collection.
The defendants then went to the home of Kevin Gachelin, 21 at that time, broke in while he was asleep and beat him with baseball bats. When Gachelin tried to escape, Holmes shot him in the back with a revolver, police said.
Cpl. Jonathan Colarusso of the state police and Detective William Haller of the Northern York County Regional Police Department investigated the case together. Colarusso said he was pleased with the trial verdict. He said the successful prosecution was an example of great cooperation between local law enforcement agencies, the police in Fairfax County, Virginia, where the defendants were from, and the York County District Attorney's Office.
"Myself and Detective Haller worked really side-by-side from the word go, and it didn't matter what uniform we were wearing," Colarusso said.
He said he and Haller focused heavily on the case as soon as it came in and continued to work at it and develop witnesses, who proved instrumental to Thursday's result.
Two co-defendants who testified against Holmes have yet to be sentenced. Senior deputy prosecutor Jonathan Blake, whose involvement with the case goes back to the earliest parts of the investigation, said Leonard Hayes, 21, and Andre Highsmith, 21, must re-enter guilty pleas they each previously made and then withdrew before receiving any consideration as far as lighter sentences.
Highsmith mentioned while testifying that he was told he was going to receive a six-month sentence to a motivational boot camp, but Blake said Highsmith misstated the parameters of his potential sentencing.
"They're both looking at some version of state prison sentencing, regardless," Blake said
Blake welcomed the jury's verdict Thursday after nearly three years of investigation, prosecution and deal-brokering among four defendants. The youngest of the four, Joseph Henderson, who was 17 at the time the crimes were committed, pleaded guilty and received a six- to 12-year sentence.
"I am obviously very happy with the jury's verdict," Blake said. "It means they saw it the same way we did."
Holmes is scheduled to be sentenced at 11 a.m.on Oct. 25.