Federal Judge Hands Down Life Sentences to Armored Car Murder Crew
HOUSTON – Four Houston men will serve the rest of their lives behind bars for the robbery and murder of an armored car guard and attempted robbery and murder of another, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
A federal jury deliberated for eight hours before convicting Nelson Alexander Polk, 40, Marc Anthony Hill, 48, John Edward Scott, 43, and Bennie Charles Phillips Jr., 32, on March 29, 2019, following a nine-day trial. All were convicted of attempted interference with commerce by robbery and aiding and abetting discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence. The jury also convicted Hill and Polk of aiding and abetting interference with commerce by robbery and aiding and abetting discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence causing the death of another.
Today, U.S. District Judge David Hittner sentenced each man to life in prison for their roles in the offenses. At the hearing, the court heard from the victim’s family who described the impact of the murder on their lives. They described waiting for their son, brother and fiancé to come home from work and that he should have never had to die for “easy money.”
The sentences stemmed from the robbery and murder of a Brinks armored car guard Aug. 29, 2016, at Wells Fargo Bank located at 13120 Northwest Freeway as well as the attempted robbery of a Loomis armored car guard at Amegy Bank located at 400 N Sam Houston Pkwy E Dec. 7, 2016.
All members of the crew received at least life in prison because each member knew the scheme involved murdering the guard then stealing the money.
Hill and Polk were sentenced to two consecutive life terms followed by 240 months for their roles in both robberies and murder. Scott and Phillips received life in prison followed by a consecutive 240 months for their roles in the attempted robbery and murder of the Loomis guard at Amegy Bank.
Hill conducted extensive surveillance at both locations and was there during the time of the Wells Fargo murder and robbery. He was also near the Amegy Bank poised to pick up the robbery crew members in a getaway vehicle.
Polk, Hill’s nephew, drove the car that would pull up on the dying guard for another crew member to get out and steal the money. Polk confessed to his roles in the crimes and admitted he knew the leader intended to “lay [the guard] down” so he could easily steal the money from the dying armored guard.
Phillips recruited Trayvees Duncan-Bush, 32, also of Houston, who would take the money off of the dying guard. He made sure that Duncan-Bush had a phone, instructions and a hotel room in preparation for the robbery/murder plot. Scott acted as an outside perimeter lookout. He alerted the crew via cell phone when the armored truck was headed towards the bank and watched for law enforcement.
At trial, the jury heard that a now-deceased individual had allegedly led the robbery crew, which would conduct extensive surveillance of banks’ ATMs and armored car routes before executing the robberies. The plan involved the leader lying in wait for the guard to begin service of the ATM. He would then shoot the guard from a distance with a high caliber rifle so another member of the robbery crew could pull up and take the money.
When law enforcement moved in to arrest the subjects Dec. 7, 2016, the leader of the crew allegedly came out firing his weapon and police responded, killing him.
Those sentenced today will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
Duncan-Bush had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit interference with commerce by robbery and aiding and abetting discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence prior to trial. He is set for sentencing Aug. 14, 2019, at which time he faces up to 20 years in prison.
The FBI, Houston Police Department and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacoo, Firearms and Explosives conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Heather Winter and Richard Hanes are prosecuting the case.
The case is an example of coordination between law enforcement who are part of the Houston Law Enforcement Violent Crime Initiative. The goal is to proactively fight and reduce violent crime across the Greater Houston area by targeting the region’s most violent offenders, augmenting investigative and prosecutorial efforts, and enhancing training, public awareness and education.
It was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that has been historically successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.