Two Groton teens beat the rap in time to be charged in new robbery, assault case

Two Groton teenagers whose robbery charges were dismissed recently after a judge ruled that city police had conducted an illegal stop in January 2011 have been arrested in another robbery and assault case that left the victim with a serious eye injury.

Latavian Harris, 19, and Keysean Holland, 18, are accused of beating and robbing a man who was attempting to buy marijuana from Harris outside of Richoni's Lounge on Poquonnock Road on April 2. The victim, William Wicknick, underwent emergency eye surgery and may have suffered permanent vision loss, according to a court document.

A third man, 19-year-old Mustafa Johnson, also is charged with taking part in the crime.

Harris and Holland had been charged with two other crimes — an attempted robbery on Jan. 6, 2011, and a robbery in June 2010 — but the state stopped prosecuting them after Judge Arthur C. Hadden ruled that Holland had been stopped illegally by the late city police Lt. Thomas Forbes.

Holland's attorney, Peter E. Scillieri, had filed a motion to suppress the discovery of a CO2 pistol on Holland and of incriminating statements he gave that night about the two robbery charges. Scillieri argued that Holland had been stopped without probable cause and without reasonable suspicion.

Forbes had stopped Holland and Harris as they walked on Benham Road at 12:40 a.m. on Jan. 6, 2011, because he said they fit the description of two people who had recently robbed Eastern Point Wine & Spirits. Holland fled from Forbes after Forbes patted him down and felt a gun. Captured after a brief chase, he confessed that he and Harris were looking to commit a robbery that night and that they also had beaten and attempted to rob a man on June 5, 2010.

Judge Hadden granted the motion to suppress. Judge Patrick J. Clifford dismissed the charges against Holland and Harris after the state entered a "nolle" in their cases.

In the new case, Holland, Harris and Johnson allegedly met the victim outside Richoni's on April 2 and walked him to an alley a few blocks away under the guise of selling him marijuana. According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Wicknick said one of the teens hit him in the face as soon as he took out his wallet. He said he fell to the ground, and the teens stole his wallet, containing $450, and fled. Wicknick went back to the bar and asked staff to call 911 at 10:26 p.m.

Harris, confronted outside the Cumberland Farms convenience store on Mitchell Street at 12:45 a.m. because he was wearing a Chicago Bulls cap that matched a witness description of one of the robbers, told police he "beat the last robbery charge, so he would beat this one too," according to the warrant.

Harris, told that police were on their way with a witness who was going to attempt to identify him as one of the robbers, fled toward Hamilton Avenue, where he climbed onto the roof of an abandoned building, according to the warrant. Officers convinced him to come down and placed him under arrest.

Later that day, police said they asked the Groton City Fire Department to use their ladder truck to check the roof and recovered $260 that was stuffed between two chimney flues.

Harris, Holland and Johnson are charged with first-degree robbery, first-degree assault, second-degree larceny and sixth-degree larceny. All three are being held in lieu of bond and have upcoming court dates.

k.florin@theday.com

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