Woods pleads guilty to armed robbery, beating

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 11, 2011

LIBERTY — Deon D. Woods, 21, pleaded guilty in Amite County Wednesday to armed robbery for the February 2010 robbery and beating of an elderly Natchez couple.

Woods, 29-A Brenham Ave., was scheduled for trial Wednesday in Liberty after Judge Forest “Al” Johnson granted him a change in venue for his trial. Woods, however, pleaded guilty before opening statements, District Attorney Ronnie Harper said.

Woods was originally charged with armed robbery and aggravated assault.

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The elderly couple was at their Second Street house during the incident when two men reportedly knocked on their door. When the man answered, he was allegedly pistol-whipped by Woods, who also reportedly pistol-whipped the woman when she tried to call 911.

LaKendrick D. Allen, who was reportedly involved in incident and present at the scene, pleaded guilty June 22 to simple robbery.

Allen, 3563 Seal Road, Roxie, as well as Woods, were both originally indicted on two counts of aggravated assault and one count of armed robbery.

Harper said prosecution had planned to use Allen as a witness against Woods. One of the victim’s, Gladys Seale, who was 82 at the time of the incident, was also expected to testify. The other victim, Mack Seale Jr., who was 88 at the time of the incident, died in June.

Harper said the prosecution’s case was solid, but he had some concern that the armed robbery charge and aggravated assault charge could be mistaken as convicting Woods twice for the one incident of assault, which would result in double jeopardy.

“I (would have) felt comfortable had (the trial) gone forward, but under the law (Woods) can get up to life for armed robbery,” Harper said.

The minimum sentence for Woods is three years in prison, Harper said.

Johnson delayed sentencing and ordered a pre-sentencing investigation by Mississippi Department of Corrections officers.

A pre-sentencing investigation allows the facts of the case, victim’s statements, criminal history, age and other evidence to be presented before the court or jury delivers a sentence, Harper said.

Woods was 19 at the time of the crime, and Allen was 22.

No sentencing date for Woods or Allen has yet been set, Harper said.