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Suspect in multicounty crime spree sentenced for HS robbery

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One of a group of suspects arrested in connection with a multicounty crime spree of armed robberies in 2016 pleaded guilty Monday to felony charges stemming from a Hot Springs robbery and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Brennian Lamar Swanigan, 19, of North Little Rock, pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery and engaging in a continuing criminal gang, organization or enterprise in connection with the Dec. 3, 2016, robbery of Subway restaurant, 3302 Central Ave., and was sentenced to 10 years on each count, to run concurrently, while an additional felony charge of aggravated assault was withdrawn.

A second suspect in the robbery, Charles Edward Smith Jr., 17, also of North Little Rock, who was arrested on the same charges as Swanigan, was killed Jan. 7, 2018, in a shootout with officers in North Little Rock. Four days later, Garland County Prosecuting Attorney Michelle Lawrence filed a motion to have the charges dismissed because Smith was deceased.

According to the probable cause affidavit on the Subway robbery, shortly after 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 3, 2016, Hot Springs police were dispatched to the restaurant regarding an armed robbery that had just occurred. An employee stated three black males armed with handguns had rushed into the restaurant while he was in the back.

He said the suspects forced him to open the register and ordered him to open the safe. As this was going on, one of the suspects hit the employee in the head with a handgun. The suspects then took money and fled the scene.

Detective Scott Lampinen reviewed security video and determined the suspects were in a white Dodge Journey driven by a fourth suspect. He soon discovered the robbery was related to at least seven other aggravated robberies that had occurred between Dec. 3, 2016, and Jan. 4, 2017, all involving the same method of operation and the same vehicle.

The robberies occurred in Benton on Dec. 3, Cabot and Saline County on Dec. 4, Jacksonville on Dec. 5, Mayflower on Dec. 8, and Texarkana and Hope on Jan. 4. In each incident, three or more suspects were involved.

On Dec. 16, 2016, one juvenile suspect was arrested in Jacksonville after he was seen attempting to cash lottery tickets stolen in the Cabot robbery. A search warrant of his cellphone revealed multiple text messages between him and other suspects, including one called "Lil' Boosie" and one called "Lil B.," implicating all of them in the robberies.

Lampinen searched the phone numbers recovered on Facebook and discovered "Lil B's" number was linked to Swanigan and the juvenile in custody confirmed Lil B's real name was Brennian. A GPS location trace on Swanigan's phone showed he had traveled to Hot Springs on Dec. 3, 2016, and was within a half mile of the Subway a few minutes before the robbery.

A similar GPS trace of Smith's phone showed he was in the same area at the same time as Swanigan and "it was evident they were traveling together." It was noted the phone records further linked Smith and Swanigan to the robberies in Benton, Cabot, Saline County, Texarkana and Hope, showing they were together each time and near the areas when the robberies occurred.

Local on 05/16/2018

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