Attorneys for a mother and son charged in connection with a $2.5 million heist at a Forsyth County jewelry store said there is no direct evidence linking their clients to the late September crime.
Hearings that started Oct. 25 to determine probable cause for Connie Holloway, 52, and her son Michael T. Holloway, 35, continued Monday in Forsyth County Magistrate Court.
They were arrested Sept. 29 at Connie Holloway’s home in Smyrna and charged with one count each of party to the crime of burglary and theft by taking.
Also arrested that day at Holloway’s apartment was Amanda Hogan, 27, of Hampton, who faces the same charges. Hogan’s bond was set last week at $1.25 million.
The suspects have each been charged in connection with the Sept. 25 burglary of Milano Fine Jewelry on Buford Highway.
Monday, Forsyth County Magistrate Pamela Boles set Michael Holloway’s bond at $2.5 million.
Boles said she wanted to review the evidence in Connie Holloway’s case before determining if there is probable cause.
Three other suspects face charges in the case.
Christopher Lamar Funderburk, 32, of Fairburn, was arrested Oct. 12 and charged with one count each of burglary and theft by taking.
In addition, Carl Henry Bowser III, 26, of Atlanta and Kenardis Demaine Holloway, 31, of Hampton were arrested Sept. 27 and 28 and charged with one count each of burglary and theft by receiving.
Kenardis Holloway is Connie Holloway’s son and the longtime boyfriend of Hogan.
During the hearing Monday, witnesses testified that Michael Holloway is a minister who taught a Bible study course for senior citizens in his apartment complex, as well as Sunday school classes for young adults at his Atlanta church.
His attorney, Rafe Banks, had earlier argued that the only evidence authorities had against his client was a phone call made from jail.
He noted that Kenardis Holloway, who needed money for bail and an attorney, had called his brother to tell him how to get the funds from his bank account.
He said Kenardis Holloway’s bank statements show the last deposit to his account, which contained $24,354.23, was made on Sept. 19.
The account was frozen on Sept. 30. Banks said it was “impossible for that account to have any connection to any burglary here in Forsyth County.”
Banks also argued that the prosecution failed to present its most accurate evidence by not bringing tapes of Kenardis Holloway’s phone conversations to court.
“When a party has the opportunity to present the most accurate evidence and chooses affirmatively to resist … that counts against them,” Banks said.
Forsyth County Assistant District Attorney James Dunn countered that Michael Holloway was directly involved in the burglary, which he said took “substantial planning.”
He held that, according to testimony by Forsyth County Sheriff’s Investigator Travis Spriggs, Kenardis Holloway told the other defendants on the phone to “implement the plan.”
That statement, according to Spriggs, was evidence they knew about the burglary before it occurred.
“Michael told his brother, ‘I know what to do,’” Dunn said. “He was a party to the crime before the commission of this offense.”
Connie Holloway’s attorney, Bert Barker, asked Boles to dismiss the charges against his client.
“There is no evidence that Ms. Holloway was at the scene of the crime or ever was in Forsyth County,” Barker said.
The attorney noted that during his testimony, Spriggs said he had heard Kenardis Holloway ask his mother to transfer some money from his bank account to hers.
Asked if the money was to be used to hire a lawyer or post bond, Spriggs had said he didn’t remember.
Barker added that there is no evidence a pair of pruning shears found at Connie Holloway’s apartment had been used in the crime.
Spriggs had testified they are the same brand as shears authorities found while collecting evidence in Forsyth County.
Forsyth County Assistant District Attorney Heather Chambers maintained all of the suspects had been involved in the heist in advance, citing the seven sets of footprints found at the store.
She also noted that Spriggs had testified the shears could be used for cutting wire.
“She lives in a two-bedroom apartment,” Chambers said. “She’s not using those pruning shears to cut shrubs on community property.”