One of two charged in robbery, pursuit arraigned in Unicoi

Brad Hicks • Feb 20, 2013 at 9:29 PM

ERWIN — Ledarius Owens, one of two Chattanooga men arrested in Unicoi County on Monday evening after allegedly leading officials on a pursuit after robbing a Johnson City pizza restaurant was arraigned Wednesday morning in Unicoi County Sessions Court.

Owens, 27, 4005 Highland Ave., Chattanooga, is charged in Unicoi County with felony evading arrest and driving on a suspended license. He requested an appointed attorney at his hearing, and a $40,000 corporate bond was set. Owens is scheduled to again appear in Sessions Court on Feb. 28.

Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley said Tuesday that his department received a call from North Carolina authorities Monday evening advising officers were pursuing a red vehicle with no visible registration on Interstate 26 westbound toward Tennessee. The pursuit, Hensley said, started in Madison County, N.C., and Unicoi County officials received the call as the vehicle approached the Tennessee line.

According to Hensley, UCSD Chief Deputy Frank Rogers and other officers set up spike strips at Exit 46 in an attempt to stop the car. Hensley said the spike strips flattened a couple of the vehicle’s tires. Its driver, later determined to be Owens, continued to flee westbound on the interstate. Deputies set up a rolling roadblock at Exit 43 and, as they attempted to stop the car, Owens struck a cruiser and the concrete barrier along the interstate several times.

Owens veered off the road at Exit 40 and attempted to flee the car on foot, but was apprehended in the parking lot of a nearby service station, Hensley said. Owens’ passenger, Martell Jones, 26, 3818 Dorris St., Chattanooga, was also taken into custody.

Although both Owens and Jones were transported to the Unicoi County Jail following their arrests, Hensley said Wednesday that Jones will not face charges in Unicoi County. However, Jones was being held in jail due to warrants out of Chattanooga. According to the Chattanooga Police Department, Jones is wanted in connection with three robberies there. He’s also charged with four counts of aggravated robbery and one count each of attempted first-degree murder and kidnapping, according to Chattanooga Police officials.

Both Owens and Jones are also suspects in the armed robbery of the Little Caesars Pizza on North Roan Street, which is alleged to have occurred at around 8 p.m. Monday before the alleged pursuit began. According to Johnson City police, one black male entered the store, showed a gun and demanded employees hand over money from the safe and cash register. Both Ownes and Jones face robbery charges in Washington County.

Hensley previously said the descriptions of Jones and Owens matched the be-on-the-lookout alerts issued by Johnson City Police in connection to the restaurant robbery. He also said officers found rolls of coins and a bank bag containing cash in the vehicle driven by Owens.

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