Two plead guilty this week in separate bank robberies

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Final co-defendant pleads guilty in 2015 bank robbery that ended in wreck

Brenton Donnell Jenkins
Brenton Donnell Jenkins

A Virginia teen who was the final suspect in a March 2015 bank robbery in downtown Wilmington will spend at least five years in prison after he pleaded guilty to charges in the case.

Brenton Donnell Jenkins, 19, pleaded guilty Thursday in New Hanover County Superior Court to charges of robbery with a dangerous weapon, conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon and second-degree kidnapping, according to a news release from District Attorney Ben David. Superior Court Judge Phyllis Gorham sentenced him to 64-89 months in the N.C. Department of Corrections.

Jenkins was charged with a morning robbery at the Bank of America, 319 N. Third St., on March 23, 2015. Jenkins’s co-defendants – 43-year-old Darrick Jones and 24-year-old Jimmy Cox – have each pleaded guilty in the case.

Two men armed with knives demanded money from bank tellers and then fled in a Toyota.

“They jumped the counter and stole cash drawers containing more than $6,000,” David said. “Jones brandished a knife and forced one of the employees to give them access to those drawers prior to taking them. The two suspects fled the bank and got into a vehicle with Cox.”

Police pursued the suspects in a high-speed chase that ended with a wreck near the intersection of Eastwood Road and Wrightsville Avenue. Five vehicles, including the suspects’ vehicle, were involved in the wreck that closed Eastwood Road to traffic for hours. All three suspects, who were from the Washington, D.C. area, were arrested at the scene of the crash, David said.

Jones pleaded guilty to robbery with a dangerous weapon and speeding to elude arrest on Sept. 16, 2015, according to prison records. He was sentenced 84-125 months in prison. Cox pleaded guilty to robbery with a dangerous weapon and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon on Aug. 10, 2015. He was sentenced 83-124 months in prison.

Habitual felon pleads guilty to break-ins, bank robberies

Joseph Paul HowardA Wilmington man and habitual felon pleaded guilty to six home break-ins and two bank robberies in June 2015.

Joseph Paul Howard III, 35, pleaded guilty in New Hanover County Superior Court to several felony charges Wednesday, according to David. Superior Court Judge Phyllis Gorham sentenced him to 146-188 months in prison. Gorham also ordered Howard to pay more than $94,000 in restitution to victims.

Howard, along with Kimberly Mayhew, James Smallwood and Eric Howard, reportedly broke into homes in Wilmington during the months of April and May 2014. On June 23, 2015, Howard posted a $30,000 bail and was released, David said.

The same day, he became a suspect in a robbery at a First Citizens Bank at 2200 S. 17th St. and attempted robbery at Bank of America at 1929 Carolina Beach Road. David said Howard was caught on video at both banks, wearing the same clothing. He was quickly identified and arrested.

Mayhew, 28, pleaded guilty in the break-ins on Nov. 16, 2015 and received a 51-74 month prison sentence. Smallwood, 35, and Howard, 27, are scheduled for trial in New Hanover County Superior Court on Feb. 15.