"I'm innocent. I'm innocent. I'm innocent."
This is 22-year-old Alvino Houston's response to charges concerning his alleged involvement in last Wednesday's armed robbery of J's Package store in DeKalb. Houston, who's from Preston, along with 42-year-old Wilburt Evans from Philadelphia and 21-year-old Paul McShepard of DeKalb, made their initial appearance in DeKalb city court Tuesday.
Investigators are calling the armed robbery very bold because it happened not only during daylight hours, around 7 p.m. last Wednesday but also only yards away from the Kemper County Sheriff’s Department.
Once inside the store the suspects allegedly demanded money from the clerk. We're told that one of them had a gun, which at some point during the robbery discharged. However, no one was hurt. Once outside the store we're told that the suspects took off driving down Highway 16 toward Philadelphia and within an hour's time were apprehended by Neshoba County authorities on Highway 21 without incident.
The men are also facing other armed robbery charges in Lauderdale and Neshoba Counties. All of the robberies happened last week. Although 23-year-old Samone Powell from Philadelphia is not charged in the DeKalb robbery, he is facing charges in the other two.
Meanwhile, to the charges the alleged gunman in the DeKalb robbery, Wilburt Evans, has this to say.
"I know I'm not guilty so I ain't going to worry about it until I go to trial. The evidence will speak for itself."
"All of the evidence that was obtained out of the vehicle points to them being the ones that did the armed robbery," says DeKalb Police Chief Kirk Merchant. "We think we a 100 percent tight case against them."
Bond for the men in the DeKalb robbery has been set at $200,000 each. Evans and Houston are also facing $200,000 bond in the Neshoba County robbery. Meanwhile, Powell's bond in that case has been set at $100,000.
As for the Lauderdale County robbery, bond for the three suspects allegedly involved is expected to be set within the next few days.