VALDOSTA — A Lowndes County jury found Antonio Young guilty of armed robbery, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony this week, following a two-day trial.
Heather Weldon, the co-defendant and Young’s girlfriend at the time, pleaded guilty to armed robbery just before the trial began and testified for the prosecution.
The robbery occurred October 2018 when Young and Weldon lured the victim to a hotel room where he was beaten and robbed at gunpoint.
Cathy Helms, the assistant Southern District attorney prosecuting the case, called seven witnesses to the stand including the victim, Weldon and several officers who had responded to the call and led the investigation.
The victim testified he started receiving texts from Weldon’s phone the night of the incident offering him sex in exchange for $100.
Weldon testified it was not her but her ex-boyfriend, Young, who was sending the texts to set up the robbery.
The victim arrived at the hotel room and met with Weldon. Testimony conflicted with what happened next.
The victim said she initiated sexual contact with him, while Weldon said he began to assault her, according to court testimony.
They both agreed, after a few minutes, Young entered the hotel room and asked what was going on. Young punched the victim, causing severe bleeding above his left eye and held him at gunpoint, demanding money, the victim said.
Weldon said Young beat the victim with the butt of a handgun several times.
During the crime, Weldon also went downstairs to the car the victim drove to the hotel to retrieve a purse that was in the back seat.
The victim testified he was allowed to leave and drove to the nearest gas station where employees saw the blood all over his face and called 911.
Officers who responded to the hotel to investigate the armed robbery testified when they got to the hotel, blood was on the floor, the bed and the wall.
Young and Weldon told the officer that they did not rob the victim. Their story at the time was that the victim was there to pay a debt to Young. While waiting for Young, the two claimed the victim began sexually assaulting Weldon before Young arrived and defended Weldon.
Valdosta Police Detective Eric Wagoner testified he went to the hotel office to review the surveillance footage while Young and Weldon were being questioned.
The videos, which were shown in court, showed the victim arriving and leaving the hotel and Weldon going down to retrieve the purse. The video also shows Young throwing the purse into a dumpster at the hotel as well as placing what appeared to be the gun into the bed of a truck after police arrived.
Police officers testified they retrieved the purse and the gun and arrested Young and Weldon.
The defense said Weldon alone lured the victim to the hotel room, and Young was simply trying to defend his girlfriend whom he thought was being sexually assaulted.
On cross-examination, the defense questioned officers on the lack of blood found on the gun and questioned Weldon and the victim about the variations in each other’s stories.
The defense called no witnesses and Young did not take the stand on his own behalf.
After a short deliberation, the jury returned the guilty verdict on all three counts.
Young and Weldon are both awaiting sentencing for Weldon’s guilty plea and Young’s conviction.