durantdemocrat.com

Men charged with robbery hoaxes plead no contest

October 16, 2013

Five men accused of prank robberies that ended up putting the Southeastern campus on alert entered no-contest pleas to misdemeanor charges and were sentenced to jail time.


Jercolby Lynn Bradley, 22, Keith Dequan Craddock, 25, Krishon Daye, 25, Arinzechukwu Izuchukwu Eziakor, 22, and Matthew Leatherwood, 23 were charged in June with felony conspiracy to engage in a pattern of criminal offenses plus misdemeanor charges of wearing a mask, hood or covering for the purposes of coercion, intimidation or harassment, and four counts of assault and battery. One defendant claimed he was not wearing a mask during the prank.


During a preliminary hearing Wednesday, the felony charges against them were dismissed as part of a plea agreement. They were given three-year deferred sentences on the misdemeanor charges and also sentenced to 90 days in jail. They were not booked into jail and have designated times to serve their sentences.


According to court papers, the charges are due to them forcibly entering three residences while disguising themselves with masks and then staging robberies, assaulting victims and frightening them.


According to Durant Police, several people disclosed on April 2 that masked men came to their residences and demanded money and cell phones, although nothing was actually taken.


Due to the incidents, Southeastern Oklahoma State University sent out an advisory via text message, email and telephone, that warned of armed home invasions that had happened near the campus.


During the investigation, police were told that the incidents were pranks and that the defendants knew all of the victims of the hoax. All five of the men were Southeastern students and the university suspended them. They filed a lawsuit against the university that alleges they were denied due process over the hearings that led to their suspensions.


The father of one of the victims said that his daughter was not angry with the defendants and simply wanted the whole situation to “go away.”


He said they both felt it was just a bad joke. He said while they should be punished, felony charges seemed to be taking it too far.


If the defendants successfully complete probation, the cases will be dismissed.