CARROLLTON – Lorne Bivines is a free man today thanks to a decision by 12 jurors.
Bivines was acquitted on two charges yesterday of burglary and stealing. If convicted Bivines could have faced up to 14 years in prison.
Bivines expressed no emotion throughout the day, but cracked a smile and hugged his attorney Melinda Troeger once the verdict was read by Carroll County Associate Judge Kevin Walden.
Bivines was accused of robbing the Richmond Apple Market Grocery Store on June 22, 2008 and stealing about $950.
Prosecutors had no eye witnesses of the crime and leaned on a security camera system that showed two angles of an African-American male using a piece of asphalt to break through the bottom pane of glass to the front door of the store about 2:40 a.m. After breaking the glass, the man ran away and returned about five minutes later and entered the store.
After staying in the store for a moment the suspect left the store only to return again minutes later to enter the store again. Jurors were allowed to watch a copy of the tape.
Police were alerted to the scene when a newspaper delivery person noticed the broken glass and called police.
Ray County Deputy Sheriff Gary Bush testified that he identified Bivines from the video and photos from the video. When questioned by Troeger, Bush said he was pretty sure it was Bivines in the video but could not be absolutely certain.
Troeger also argued that no physical evidence was presented and no cash, new purchases or a copy of missing DVDs from the stores security system could be located.
Prosecutors also presented evidence of clothing that was found at two separate residences where Bivines had been known to stay. Investigators found two backpacks and two pairs of shorts at Bivines’ mother’s house and the home of his friend Derrick Robinson.
Robinson was originally charged in the case but charges were dropped. Robinson was put on the stand yesterday, but invoked his Fifth Amendment rights to not testify.
Prosecutors also put a Higginsville man on the stand that is serving time for burglary charges and was a cellmate with Bivines at the Ray County Jail. Gary Earnst testified that he was told by Bivines that, “[Bivines] and his boy,” committed the crime.
Prosecutors also put a Lexington man, Josh Thacker, on the stand to shoot a hole in an original alibi Bivines had given police. Bivines told investigators that he had been with Thacker and Robinson, then later said he was too drunk to remember. Thacker testified that he had dropped Bivines off about midnight and that he had not been drinking.
In her closing arguments, Troeger said that the photos and the video were not clear enough to convict. Furthermore, she said items the suspect was wearing were collected from two different spots. She finished by discrediting Robinson for trying to make Bivines a fall guy to get himself out of trouble. She pointed out that investigators searched Bivines’ mother’s home without the defendant present, but allowed Robinson to lead them through his home and show them where evidence was located.
Jurors deliberated for only about 15 minutes before returning with the verdict. Jurors took all of the photos entered into evidence and a backpack recovered from the scene.
In the end, jury forewoman Elsie Chavez said the photos and the video were not clear enough and witness testimony was not enough for a conviction.
“It was not bullet proof,” she said about the evidence.