Man and woman plead not guilty in Ellis Pottery robbery

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Co-defendants charged with aggravated robbery in connection with the armed holdup of Ellis Pottery in Texarkana, Texas, last year entered pleas of not guilty Monday at court hearings in Bowie County.

Brandon Lee Staggs, 25, and Toni Jo Works, 37, were both arraigned Monday before 5th District Judge Bill Miller in a courtroom at the Bi-State Justice Center. Staggs stood with Texarkana attorney Josh Potter and entered a plea of not guilty to a charge of aggravated robbery. Works stood with Texarkana attorney Eric Marks and entered the same plea.

Miller scheduled both cases for a jury trial Oct. 15.

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Staggs and Works were arrested Nov. 25 by members of the Texarkana, Texas, Police Department after two Ellis Pottery employees managed to thwart an armed robbery shortly after the store’s 8 p.m. closing time. According to a probable cause affidavit, the two employees were sitting in a manager’s office when Staggs entered through an unlocked door in the rear of the store.

The men in the office reported they locked the door to the office when they saw a man armed with a white cloth on his face and a shotgun in his hands heading toward the door but Staggs used the butt of the shotgun to break it open. One of the men, who has a permit to carry a handgun, was able to grab his pistol before Staggs broke into the office but was not able to get a bullet chambered in time.

As the men gave Staggs some money and distracted him by telling him there was more cash in a safe in the front of the store, the men began struggling over the shotgun. During the struggle, one of the Ellis Pottery employees discharged two rounds from the pistol but nobody was hit.

When police arrived they found the shotgun lying in a store aisle and Staggs still struggling with one of the employees. Staggs allegedly had “an overwhelming odor of alcoholic beverage emitting from his person” when taken into custody, according to the affidavit. Staggs allegedly told officers his girlfriend was outside waiting for him.

Works was taken into custody without incident outside the store. Works allegedly told police she didn’t believe Staggs would actually go through with the robbery.

Works is currently free on bond. Staggs remains in custody. If found guilty of aggravated robbery, each faces five to 99 years or life in prison.

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