2 men arrested in connection with violent armed robbery
Published: February 5, 2013
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ST. THOMAS - Detectives on St. Thomas have arrested two men, one of whom was on pretrial release in a pending criminal case, in connection with a violent armed robbery one week ago.
Roland Murrell Jr. and Ayala King are charged with conspiring to rob Leayle King Sr. outside his Anna's Retreat home on Jan. 28, according to court records. There is no information in the court file about whether Leayle King and Ayala King are related, but the robbery ended with Leayle King sustaining multiple gunshot wounds. He was in critical condition following the shooting and flown to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Florida for further treatment.
Leayle King's wife told V.I. Police Detective Sehkera Tyson that she woke up to the sound of gunfire sometime after midnight on Jan. 28 and she immediately got out of bed to check on her two sons, according to a probable cause fact sheet filed Monday in Magistrate Court. One of the sons told his mother that someone - "a thin person" - was firing shots outside the house.
The boy also told Tyson that he heard a total of about eight gunshots that came in two groupings and heard someone say, "Awww," as if they were struck by the bullets, according to the fact sheet. The boy ran to the living room window, looked out and saw a person kneeling on one knee, "as if he was in pain."
He later went outside to discover his father lying on his stomach, his head "covered in blood" and his pants "dampened in blood."
The victim's wife told police that when the gunfire stopped, she told one of her sons to call their father because he was not home and she was worried, the fact sheet states. Leayle King's wife then heard moaning, and when she got closer to the front door, "she suddenly heard a voice call her first name," according to police.
She looked out the window and saw her husband lying face-down on the ground, according to Tyson. When Leayle King's wife asked her husband if he knew who shot him, he said only, "No," according to the affidavit
Leayle King's wife told Tyson that when her husband left the house early in the afternoon of Jan. 27, he was going to attend the races at Clinton Phipps Racetrack. He was wearing several pieces of gold jewelry, including a large gold chain necklace with a large gold lion head pendant, a large gold hand chain, several gold rings and a gold ECKO watch, according to court records.
Leayle King's gold rings and watch were on the ground where he lay after being shot, but the necklace, lion head pendant and hand chain were missing, according to the fact sheet.
Later that day, Det. Cornell Esprit received information that two men were trying to pawn "several large pieces of gold chain" at cash-for-gold stores on Raadets Gade, Tyson wrote.
The next day, Esprit and Tyson interviewed the manager of House of Rajah Jewelry Store and learned that two men sold the store gold jewelry that matched the description of Leayle King's missing jewelry. The manager paid $9,000 for the items - $1,000 in cash and $8,000 with a check. The suspects already had cashed the check by the time the store manager put a stop-payment order on it, police said.
Tyson reviewed security camera footage from the jewelry store and identified Ayala King from the descriptions given and also recognized Murrell from a pending criminal matter in which he was on pre-trial release, according to the fact sheet.
Court records show only one pending criminal case for Murrell - a 2012 case in which he is charged with first-degree assault and unauthorized use of a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence.
Police obtained search warrants for the Tutu Hi-Rise apartments occupied by Ayala King and Murrell and arrested both men upon execution of the warrants on Saturday. They said they found Ayala King in possession of $1,410 in cash, 22 9 mm bullets, a .380 Taurus Millennium pistol and a seven-round magazine.
After his arrest, Ayala King, 23, agreed to speak with Tyson. He told the detective that he and Murrell planned a "mission" to rob Leayle King, according to the fact sheet. Ayala King said he was acting as the lookout during the robbery and that it was Murrell who fired the shots at the victim, according to police.
Murrell, 20, declined to give a statement, according to the fact sheet.
Both men were charged with attempted first-degree murder, first-degree robbery, first- and third-degree assault, possession of stolen property, unlawful possession of a firearm and conspiracy, court records show.
Magistrate Judge Alan Smith set Murrell's bail at $200,000 cash-only and Ayala King's bail at $100,000 cash-only. Neither man had posted bail as of Monday afternoon.
- Contact reporter Lou Mattei at 714-9124 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.