GONZALES — The man prosecutors accused of being the motorcycle helmet-wearing bank robber who made off with more than $43,000 stuffed into a black duffel bag from Red River Bank in Dutchtown last year was found guilty of armed robbery late Thursday night.
But Judge Thomas Kliebert Jr., of the 23rd Judicial District, acquitted one of Bryan Golden’s accused accomplices in the getaway, Cedric Emerson, 32, 6345 La. 73, Geismar, on the same armed robbery count, court minutes show.
Kliebert deferred sentencing for Golden until 9 a.m. Feb. 22 pending a presentence investigation.
Emerson and Golden, 31, 37133 La. 74, No. 26B, Geismar, were tried together this week in a two-day bench trial. The defendants had waived their right to a jury trial.
“I’m pleased that a conviction was obtained for Mr. Golden, as it was proven he was the perpetrator who entered the bank to commit the robbery,” prosecutor Joni Buquoi said in a statement Friday. “As for Mr. Emerson being found not guilty, I am obviously disappointed with that decision; however, I respect the ruling of the court.”
A third defendant in the case, Travis M. West, 34, 11276 Emerson Road, Geismar, was the accused getaway driver and pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to armed robbery on Sept. 8, 2014. He testified this week at Emerson and Golden’s trial.
Prosecutors claimed Golden entered the Red River Bank at La. 73 and La. 74 on Feb. 19, 2014, brandishing a handgun and demanding cash.
Though not disclosed at the time, a bank manager later told sheriff’s investigators that $43,617 was stolen from the bank and that Golden, who had been casing the bank, struck shortly after a delivery of cash for the ATM.
Investigators claimed West and Emerson picked up Golden about 2 miles south of bank in Geismar on River Oaks Road off La. 73 in West’s vehicle.
Prosecutors had one of Golden’s cell mates, Marcus Sterling, testify that Golden confessed to committing the robbery and provided details of crime. Prosecutors also presented evidence that Golden spent some of the money, though he had little personal assets.
But Ericka Schexnayder Brignac, Emerson’s defense attorney, said Friday that while Kliebert found Sterling credible, the judge did not find West’s testimony about Emerson credible.
Brignac said she felt she also was able to raise doubts about DNA testing investigators said they had done on a shirt, which was found along the robbers’ alleged escape route through nearby woods, that investigators claimed was linked to Emerson.
At the same time, Brignac acknowledged that Kliebert believed Emerson was somehow connected to the crime but felt prosecutors had not proven that beyond a reasonable doubt.
Brignac said Emerson is a young man with young children and she hopes he takes advantage of his second chance.
“I hope he does right. I’m very grateful and extremely humbled we were able to get a not guilty for him,” Brignac said.
She said Emerson has been in Ascension Parish Prison for 20 months but remained in jail Friday on other charges for which bail had never had been set.
Buquoi said investigators recovered about $4,000 in purchases and $1,000 in cash but have not found any more of the stolen money.
Golden’s defense attorney could be reached by press time Friday.
Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter @NewsieDave.