Guilty Verdit on Carjacking and Using, Carrying, or Brandishing a Firearm
HUNTSVILLE - Joyce White Vance, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, and Patrick J. Maley, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced that a jury returned a guilty verdict against ERNEST LASHAWN STARKS, 27, of Huntsville, AL and CAMERON RASHUN BYRD, 19, of Birmingham, AL on charges of Carjacking and Using, Carrying, or Brandishing a Firearm in Furtherance of a Crime of Violence. The trial, which began on January 16, 2012, was presided over by District Court Judge Karon O. Bowdre. Both men were convicted of carjacking. STARKS was convicted of one of the additional firearms charges, and BYRD was convicted of two additional firearms charges.
Evidence presented during the trial established that on May 11, 2011, STARKS and BYRD carjacked a victim’s vehicle from the parking lot of Liquor Express located on University Drive in Huntsville. BYRD forced the victim to drive the vehicle away while holding a gun to his head from the backseat. BYRD and STARKS threatened the life of the victim while brandishing firearms. On the same evening, STARKS drove BYRD and others in a different vehicle to the Victory Food Mart on Pulaski Pike in Huntsville, where BYRD used the handgun to commit a robbery by holding the gun to the cashier’s head while he emptied the register.
Thomas Omar FLOWERS, 19, of Brundage AL, who also participated in the carjacking and the robbery of the Victory Food Mart, pled on January 20, 2010 to the carjacking before District Judge C. Lynwood Smith, Jr. On January 12, 2012. All three defendants were arrested on the night of the carjacking and robbery.
According to United States Attorney Vance, “These were two extremely dangerous and violent crimes. The investigation and prosecution shows how cooperation between federal and local law enforcement agencies leads to swift and sure justice.”
“I want to thank the Huntsville Police Department and the agents involved in this matter for their diligent efforts in bringing these dangerous criminals to justice.” Patrick J. Maley, FBI Special Agent in Charge
The crime of Carjacking carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.00. The crime of Brandishing a Firearm in Furtherance of a Crime of Violence carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 7 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.00. BYRD’s second conviction for the crime of Using, Carrying or Brandishing a Firearm in Furtherance of a Crime of Violence carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison and the same fine.
BYRD’s and STARKS’s sentencing hearings have been set before Judge Bowdre on April 26, 2012. FLOWERS’ sentencing hearing has not yet been set.
This case was investigated by Special Agents of the FBI and officers of the Huntsville Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Terence M. O’Rourke and Russell E. Penfield prosecuted the case for the Government.
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