Matthew D. Norris
A Johnson City man charged in a robbery — which also involved two other men — and an unrelated church burglary was bound over to a Washington County grand jury after a preliminary hearing Thursday.
Matthew D. Norris, 19, 622 E. Maple St., appeared in Sessions Court with his attorney, Gene Scott, on charges of aggravated robbery, theft over $1,000, possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony and aggravated burglary. Norris is the first of three men charged in the alleged robbery incident March 4 at an Austin Springs Road apartment to have a hearing.
The other two are Brian Beco and Josh Stevens. Beco is in federal custody on a charge of weapon possession by a convicted felon and cannot be taken to state court until the federal case is resolved. Stevens’ hearing is set in June.
He was the first of the three charged in the case, although he was the alleged victim in the robbery incident. Stevens was charged with attempted murder for shooting Norris as Norris and Beco fled from the apartment that night.
After being shot, Norris’ night apparently kept getting worse, when he was stopped by a woman whose car he was allegedly trying to steal after lying in a creek for two hours after the shooting.
She called 911 and police and EMS responded. Norris was taken to a hospital for treatment for the gunshot wound, but would not talk to police about what happened.
During the robbery investigation, police developed Beco and Norris as suspects and witnesses identified them as the men who committed the alleged robbery.
District Attorney General Pro Tem Brownlow Marsh, from Cocke County, was appointed to prosecute the case because Stevens’ mother worked more than 20 years for the DA’s office here and his father is retired from the Johnson City police force.
The church burglary Norris is charged with happened in late February at Tacoma Church of God, where the pastor found the building ransacked and several items missing. The pastor, Richard Ballard, testified three laptops, two guitars, a drum set and part of another drum set, a handbag and a couple of deposit bags were taken.
Another witness in that case, Dakota Carr, testified Norris showed up at his house one afternoon several months ago and had two guitars for sale. Carr said he bought the instruments — an Epiphone bass and an acoustic guitar valued at $700 each — for $200.
Carr testified he sold the acoustic for around $170 but still had the bass when police contacted him about the items.
Carr said Norris and a woman came to his house that day and the woman didn’t get out of the car. In an attempt to attack Carr’s truthfulness, Scott called Investigator Thomas Dillard to the stand later in the hearing and he testified Carr also said a black male was with Norris that day. Carr had specifically said no other person was with Norris.
Norris will remain free on bond while the case is pending. His court date in Criminal Court is Aug. 1.
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