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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Alabama

Friday, September 9, 2016

Three Convicted of Carjacking a Vehicle Sold on Craigslist

Montgomery, Alabama Stanley Jawan Hinton, age 24, Jacinto Taron Robinson, age 26, and Tawanda Aeiah Sears, age 40, all residents of Columbus, Georgia, were convicted of carjacking, announced George L. Beck Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama.  Hinton and Robinson were also convicted of brandishing a firearm during the crime.

According to evidence produced at trial, in late August 2014 the victim of the carjacking purchased a vehicle from Hinton that was advertised on Craigslist.  After buying the car, the victim discovered that there were problems with the title and the rims on the car were rentals.   The victim demanded his money back. 

On the evening of September 4, 2014, Hinton, Robinson, Sears and an unidentified male met the victim at the Circle K gas station in Opelika, Alabama.  The victim was going to return the car and the defendants promised to refund the money. 

After arriving at the gas station, the unidentified male got into the purchased car, pointed a pistol at the victim and forced the victim out of the car.  The gunman and Robinson then drove away in the victim’s vehicle, and Sears and Hinton drove off in a separate car.  The victim ran inside the gas station convenience store and called 911.  

During the investigation, Opelika and Columbus, Georgia police and the FBI investigators were able to identify the suspects and learned that the Craigslist advertisement had been posted by Hinton under a false name.

All three defendants are set for sentencing this fall.  Hinton and Robinson face a potential sentence of up to 15 years for their carjacking convictions, plus a consecutive, mandatory minimum sentence of 7 years for the brandishing a firearm conviction.  Sears faces a sentence of up to 15 years in federal prison for her carjacking conviction.

“These days, you must be careful when buying from or selling to a stranger,” stated U.S. Attorney Beck.  “Sadly, everyone cannot be trusted, please be cautious when dealing with people you do not know.  However, those that take advantage of these trusting people must be prosecuted, those that use guns to steal must be prosecuted, and we will ask the court to give these criminals a sentence that is commiserate with their threats and/or violence.” 

“When transacting business via Craigslist or other similar internet sites, use your common sense,” stated Robert Lasky, FBI Special Agent in Charge, Mobile Field Division.  “Consider arranging the actual purchase or exchange of goods at your local police station or in other well-lit, highly visible areas during daylight hours.”

“The Opelika Police Department is most appreciative of the prosecution of this matter by the United States Attorney’s Office,” stated Opelika Police Chief John McEachern.  “We are grateful for the working relationship with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Safe Streets Task Force and would like to thank the Columbus, Georgia Police Department for their assistance in this case.”

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Opelika Police Department, with assistance from the Columbus, Georgia Police Department.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys John Geer and Brandon Bates.

Violent Crimes
Updated September 9, 2016