United States Attorney Ritz Celebrates Funding Awarded for Legal Services and Improved Court Responses to Domestic and Sexual Violence
Jackson, TN – After a three-day jury trial in August 2019, Johnny Lee Nixon, Jr., 23, was found guilty of Conspiracy to Commit multiple business robberies, Hobbs Act business robbery, possession of a firearm during a robbery, and receiving firearms while under indictment. Nixon has now been sentenced to 160 months in federal prison. U.S. Attorney Dunavant announced the sentencing today.
According to information presented in court, during a period of 5 days in 2016, two masked men armed with pistols robbed three businesses in the Brownsville, Haywood County area: the F&D Quick Stop, the Discount Tobacco and More, and the Bells Express Truck Stop. Also during this time, there were two different shootings where 9mm shell casings and .22 LR shell casings were recovered by the Brownsville Police Department.
On April 25, 2016 after the Bells Express Truck Stop robbery, deputies with the Haywood County Sheriff's Department collected clothing on a nearby road that was worn by the armed masked men observed in the surveillance footage. Deputies forwarded those items of evidence to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for DNA analysis, which in 2018 linked Lacey Jeter and Johnny Lee Nixon, Jr. to the clothing.
On April 26, 2016, Officers with the Brownsville Police Department observed a vehicle that matched the description of the vehicle seen leaving the scene of the Bells Express Truck Stop robbery and initiated a traffic stop. After a brief chase, the vehicle crashed in rural Haywood County. The occupants of the vehicle ran into nearby woods leaving behind two pistols similar to the ones described in the recent robberies. Officers with the Brownsville Police Department collected the firearms from the scene and submitted them to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for comparison to the shell casings recovered from the recent shootings. TBI Agents were able to confirm that the shell casings recovered after the shootings were fired from one of the firearms recovered near the scene of the crash. Johnny Lee Nixon, Jr. was indicted by a federal grand jury in January of 2019.
During the three-day trial, evidence was presented showing Johnny Lee Nixon, Jr. and co-conspirators used the proceeds from the robberies to illegally purchase the firearms used in the shootings and ultimately at least one robbery, and also participated in the conspiracy to commit the robberies and were present during the robbery of the Bells Express Truck Stop and possessed a firearm during the robbery.
On February 27, 2020, U.S. District Court Senior Judge J. Daniel Breen sentenced Nixon to 160 months in federal prison followed by 5 years supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.
U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said, "Violent crime affects and endangers all communities in West Tennessee, both urban and rural. Robberies of businesses with a firearm are especially dangerous and violent due to the high risk of death and serious bodily injury to innocent victims. Business robberies also have a substantially negative impact on the local economy and commerce, which victimizes the entire community. As a result of this sentence, Nixon will have plenty of time in federal prison to suffer the consequences of his criminal conduct, and the citizens of Haywood County will be safer for it."
Haywood County Sheriff Billy Garrett, Jr., said: "Special thanks to the hard working people of our U.S. Attorney’s Office for helping our office keep the law-abiding citizens of Haywood county safe. I appreciate the teamwork and look forward to working with you again."
"The City of Brownsville is grateful for the support of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Haywood County Sherriff’s Office and the Brownsville Police Department in the prosecution and conviction of Johnny Nixon. Nixon was a danger to society with his lengthy criminal history of robberies, domestic assaults and weapons violations. Working together, Brownsville is a much safe place," said Brownsville Police Chief Barry Diebold.
This case was investigated by the Brownsville Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Haywood County Sheriff’s Department and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI).
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Hillary Parham and Matt Wilson prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.