Impressions on notebook lead to man's conviction

LAGRANGE, Ga. - A jury discovered what a prosecutor did not - the impression of a holdup note, pressed into the blank page of a notebook, that authorities say was to be used in the robbery of a west Georgia bank.


The jury convicted Darius K. Heard, 29, of Fayetteville, Ga. He was sentenced Thursday to 16 years in prison for attempted robbery, fleeing officers and reckless driving.

A co-defendant, Reamon D. Mapp, 25, of Austell, Ga., was sentenced to 10 years after pleading guilty to attempted robbery, fleeing officers and possession of cocaine.

Mr. Heard was convicted of an April 11 robbery attempt at the RBC Centura bank in Hogansville after jurors at his trial found the outline of a holdup note pressed into the blank pages of a notebook that was seized from the car in which he and Mr. Mapp were arrested.

When the two were stopped after a chase, police found two partially written notes on their vehicle's center console. One read, "This is a robbery so don't panic because if you do you could put," and stopped in midsentence. The other note said, "This."

A notebook on the floorboard contained only blank pages, but when jurors examined it during deliberations they could see indentations of a holdup note.

Senior Assistant District Attorney Lynda Caldwell had been unaware of the indentations.

Juror Carol Ann Woodyard said the experience was like something out of the TV show CSI because jurors found something the authorities did not.

"They never said anything about the missing page. They never even mentioned to us about the indentations on the next page. That was something we found while carefully going over the evidence," said Ms. Woodyard, 40.

After the conviction, Ms. Caldwell held the notebook at an angle and could see a note that appeared to read, "This is a stickup. Don't panic or you could put the life of your teller in danger. I won't hesitate to kill. 20's, 50's, 100's. Please! Thank you."

Juror Patsy Darda, of LaGrange, said Ms. Caldwell's interpretation of the indentations was accurate and that a juror found the impressions after they discovered pages had been torn out of the book.

The 66-year-old former bookkeeper said the jurors didn't scrape over the impressions with a pencil to be able to clearly read the note because they were concerned about tampering with the evidence.

Instead, four jurors scanned the note and pieced together its message.

The impressions helped jurors unanimously convict Mr. Heard. Initially, at least three jurors were uncertain that there was enough evidence to convict him for the attempted robbery because it was said that he never entered the bank.