Convictions of cross-dressing Miss. bandits upheld

Published 1:48 pm Friday, September 26, 2008

The state Court of Appeals has upheld the convictions of three cross-dressing bandits whose attempted holdup of a bank was spoiled by an alert guard, who got in a shootout with the trio.

The date was July 8, 2004, and the place was the Merigold branch of the Cleveland State Bank. It all began when what appeared to be two women and a man entered the bank.

Two men were actually dressed as women, complete with dresses and wigs, while the woman involved in the attempted heist was dressed as a man. A fourth suspect waited in a getaway car.

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Bank guard Donell Hogan was on his way out for a smoke break when the trio entered. Becoming suspicious, Hogan re-entered the bank.

In the ensuing shootout, 17 shots were fired and Hogan was hit in the big toe of his right foot. One of the would-be robbers was hit in the left hip and left arm. The incident was captured on a surveillance tape, a system the bank had just installed.

Crystal Daniels and Gregory Smith, both of Meridian, and Joseph Glenn of Mound Bayou were each convicted in 2005 in Bolivar County of conspiracy to commit armed robbery and attempted armed robbery. Each was sentenced to five years for conspiracy and 20 years for attempted armed robbery with the sentences running consecutively.

Glenn was identified as the driver of the getaway car.

On Tuesday, the Appeals Court upheld the convictions and sentences of Daniels, Glenn and Smith.

Another suspect, Lewis Green of Columbus, pleaded guilty to charges of armed robbery and possession of a firearm by a felon and testified in the others’ trial, according to the court record.

The court record showed the trio did not put on a defense.

They relied on Green’s testimony that they were unaware of the plan to rob the bank to convince the jury that they were not involved in a conspiracy. Green said he didn’t make his plans to rob the bank known to the others.

The Appeals Court said the three were caught with handguns, ammunition and the disguises, all of which was supported by the bank’s videotape.

“In this case, the jury rejected Green’s exculpatory testimony that he only convinced Smith and Daniels to dress up as part of a prank; instead, the jury found that they, along with Glenn, were directly involved in the attempted robbery,” wrote Appeals Judge David Anthony Chandler.

Chandler said there also was testimony from the arresting officers that they caught Green and Smith as they tried to escape from an abandoned house.

According to the court record, Smith did not have on a shirt, but he was wearing a black skirt similar to the one seen in the surveillance video.

Outside the house, officers discovered a black brassiere, which Green had wrapped around one of his bullet wounds. Officers also found backpacks used in the robbery, ammunition and two wigs.

At the hospital, Hogan identified Green as the shooter from the bank.

At trial, Hogan also identified Smith as the third individual in the bank during the attempted robbery, according to the court record.