FAIRFIELD — After nine months of delays, the probable cause hearing wrapped up Tuesday for one of five teens accused of robbing the Travis Dairy in June 2011.
The hearing for James A. Young, now 19, ended with his being ordered to face a jury trial on murder and robbery charges. Young is being prosecuted as an adult and if convicted of both charges, he would face a sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole.
Young allegedly assaulted the 70-year-old store owner, Ho J. Kim, as two of the others in their group looted the store of some cigarettes and the cash register. Kim, who owned and operated the business with his wife for several years, died of a heart attack shortly after the robbery.
The probable cause hearing for the five suspects that began in December 2012 was pre-empted by the possibilities of plea deals. Earlier this year, James E. Williamson, Osis Smith, Dezmon Frazier and Chelsea Johnson had murder charges tossed by prosecutors. Instead, the four pleaded no contest to manslaughter and burglary charges.
Williamson, Smith, Frazier and Johnson were also in court briefly Tuesday before the probable cause hearing. They have yet to be sentenced. With credit for time served and for good behavior, they have all been released from custody. Judge Donna Stashyn ordered the four back to court Nov. 12 for sentencing.
Young’s defense attorney, Jessica L. Agnich, tried to emphasize how the others had played important roles before, during and after the theft and beating of Kim.
It was Williamson’s idea to steal from Kim, according to police testimony at the hearing. Williamson knew Kim was old and frail and often was alone in his store. Williamson and Young, his half-brother, plotted the alleged robbery with Frazier’s help. Young would be the muscle, Williamson would case the store and serve as lookout and Frazier was to rush in, grab the cash register and run out.
With the plea deal in place, Frazier told authorities candidly about his role in enlisting Smith and Johnson into the scheme and how he had cajoled and threatened some of the others to join in as their plan played out.
Frazier told police he enlisted Johnson’s and Smith’s help. She was the getaway driver. Frazier said it was his idea to use a weapon in the planned robbery and he proposed using a gun. Williamson ended up using pepper spray instead, dousing Kim with it before punching him several times, after which Kim ended up on the floor in agonizing pain.
Young was ordered to return to court Sept. 16 when he is scheduled to be arraigned on the murder and robbery charges.
Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.