HOUSTON – A federal jury in Houston has just returned
guilty verdicts on all counts as charged against four men involved in the
murder of a Brinks armored car guard, among other charges, announced U.S.
Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. The jury deliberated for approximately eight hours
following a nine-day trial before convicting Nelson Alexander Polk, 40, Marc
Anthony Hill, 48, John Edward Scott, 43, and Bennie Charles Phillips Jr., 31,
all of Houston.
All four were convicted of attempted interference with
commerce by robbery and aiding and abetting discharge of a firearm during a
crime of violence. The jury also convicted Hill and Polk of aiding and abetting
interference with commerce by robbery and aiding and abetting discharge of a
firearm during a crime of violence causing the death of another.
The trial centered on the robbery and murder of a Brinks
armored car guard on Aug. 29, 2016, at Wells Fargo Bank located at 13120
Northwest Freeway as well as the attempted robbery of a Loomis armored car
guard at Amegy Bank located at 400 N Sam Houston Pkwy E on Dec. 7, 2016.
At trial, the jury heard that a now-deceased individual
had allegedly led the robbery crew, which would conduct extensive surveillance
of banks’ ATMs and armored car routes before executing the robberies. According
to testimony, the plan involved the leader lying in wait for the guard to begin
service of the ATM. He would then shoot the guard from a distance with a high
caliber rifle so another member of the robbery crew could pull up and take the
The jury heard that in the August robbery and murder, the
leader of the crew allegedly shot and killed the guard. Polk then drove a
vehicle up to the guard, at which time another crew member got out and took the
Brinks’ bag of money. Hill had been in the area conducting surveillance.
The men played the same roles in December Amegy robbery
attempt. The jury heard that law enforcement watched and listened to calls over
the leader’s phone as they prepared to rob the Loomis guard. He and Hill spent
hours and took shifts surveilling the bank. On the date of the attempted
robbery, the crew leader sat across from the ATM in an apartment complex
parking lot ready to take his shot.
When law enforcement moved in to arrest the subjects, the
crew leader allegedly came out firing his weapon and police responded, killing
On that day, Polk and Trayvees Duncan Bush, 31, also of
Houston, sat ready to drive up to the slain guard to steal the money. Phillips
recruited Bush and ensured he would be ready on the morning of Dec. 7. Hill was
nearby conducting surveillance and would meet up with Polk and Bush to provide
them a different getaway vehicle. Scott was further away from the Amegy bank
doing surveillance and watching for the armored truck to approach the location.
The jury also heard dozens of wiretap calls as the
defendants planned the attempted robbery of the armored truck, which they
frequently referred to as commissary or Bentley. They saw video and heard audio
from a recording device placed in the Jeep Cherokee the crew leader had
allegedly stolen for purposes of the crime. The jury was able to watch and hear
as he set up his rifle shot from the back seat and placed mylar over the driver
side window to avoid deflecting the bullet.
Testimony also included a cell site location expert who
tracked phone locations of the crew leader, Hill and Polk in the weeks leading
up to the August murder and robbery. He was able to show how Hill and Polk
played similar roles, surveilling the bank and being near the bank during the
time of the murder and robbery.
The defense claimed the deceased crew leader planned the
whole thing and they had no knowledge of his intentions. Further, Polk and Hill
argued that they were not there during the August robbery and murder. The jury
was not convinced and convicted them on all counts as charged.
All of the defendants convicted today face up to 20 years
for the robbery and another 10-year-minimum and up to life for the firearms
charge which must be served consecutively to any other prison term imposed.
Hill and Polk face the same terms for the additional charges for which they
U.S. District Judge Hittner presided over the trial.
They will remain in custody pending their sentencing.
Bush had pleaded guilty prior to trial.
The FBI, Houston Police Department and ATF conducted the
investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Heather Winter and Richard Hanes are
prosecuting the case.
The case is an example of coordination between law
enforcement who are part of the Houston Law Enforcement Violent Crime
The goal is to proactively fight and reduce violent crime across the Greater
Houston area by targeting the region’s most violent offenders, augmenting
investigative and prosecutorial efforts, and enhancing training, public
awareness and education.
They were brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods
(PSN), a program that has been historically successful in bringing together all
levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods
safer for everyone.