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Inmate accused of planning violent crimes in prison

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Updated: 5/01/2013 8:20 am
GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. -- Channel 2 Action News has discovered a Georgia prison inmate serving six life sentences for planning violent robberies from inside prison could be back at it again.

Channel 2's Kerry Kavanaugh has worked this story for weeks since receiving a tip about an armed robbery in Columbia, S.C.

Investigators said there is evidence the same inmate, Deuntria Lyons, had access to cellphones again, and used them to plan another violent crime.

"I was mad. I was really angry," said Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter.

Porter told Kavanaugh he and police did their jobs.

Lyons is currently serving six life sentences for planning two Gwinnett County armed robberies from prison on a cellphone.

In February 2011, robbers attacked customers and shattered glass cases inside Barrons Jewelers in Snellville and Tara Fine Jewelry in Buford.

"And now there's evidence that he's still organizing armed robberies" Porter said. "I couldn't believe that."

The latest armed robbery happened March 19 in Columbia, S.C.

Store owner Jeanette Mims told the Columbia ABC television news affiliate she thought she was going to die when two masked men ransacked her store.

"I see this guy coming in with this mask on and just waving that gun at us," Mims said.

Police arrested one of the suspects from inside the store, 23-year-old Armond Gibson.

Channel 2 Action News confirmed that Gibson is wanted for a January murder in Atlanta.

Police are still searching for the second robber.

But investigators said evidence suggests Lyons organized the whole thing.

To date, Lyons has not been charged in connection to the South Carolina crime.

But when investigators made a disturbing discovery when they questioned him.

"He was found to conceal a cellphone, broke it, tried to flush and they recovered that," Porter said.

Porter said a second cellphone was discovered when Lyons was transferred to another facility.

Kavanaugh asked the Department of Corrections how did this allegedly happen again.

She exchanged several emails with the Department of Corrections and made multiple requests for an interview.
 
They declined.

Instead a spokesperson sent this statement saying in part: "The Department aggressively works to prevent contraband from entering our facilities. The Department actively conducts searches inmate cells and prison property through the use of Tactical Squads. All facilities are equipped with CellSense devices which aides in the detection of illegal cell phones."

Despite those efforts, investigators believe Lyons still had access to cellphones and the outside world of crime.

"I think we can only tell victims the truth, that once we put them into prison there's no guarantee they won't have access to a cellphone."

Porter said he does believe the Department of Corrections is devoting tremendous efforts to solve problem of cell phones in prisons.

He said it's tough since it's often their own guards smuggling them in.

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