Southern California

Guilty Verdict in Nordstrom Rack Hostage Trial

Three men who held 14 Nordstrom Rack employees hostage during a brutal and terrifying standoff that captivated Southern California were found guilty Friday on 14 counts of second degree robbery with a handgun.

Two of the men were found guilty on separate additional charges which included two counts of sexual assault and one count of assault with a deadly weapon.

The incident occurred in January 2013. Raymond Sherman Jr., Troy Marsay Hammock and Everett Oneal Allen were charged in connection with the violent robbery in Westchester.

Sherman, who was found not guilty of one count of rape, but guilty of another rape count and one count of forcible oral copulation, sexually assaulted a female employee while the other men held the 14 people hostage for several hours in the store at the Promenade in the Howard Hughes Center, prosecutors said.

"It's surprising to me they split on the two rape charges, one was guilty, one was not guilty," Sherman's attorney Arthur Lindars said. "It seemed to me it would be a package deal."

A female employee who hid in a locker and called her husband, who then called police, was stabbed in the neck by one of the men.

Allen was convicted in her attack.

During opening statements of the trial, Lindars said the robbery was part of a plan that was hatched with the help of a victim Sherman is accused of raping.

"They planned to do the robbery at Nordstrom, and there would be a sexual assault claim during the robbery," he said. The victim "would file a lawsuit against Nordstrom and the mall for millions of dollars and then split the proceeds with Sherman," he added.

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Prosecutors kept the focus on surveillance video that showed the hours of terror hostages endured to make their claim against the trio.

"What makes this case so terrifying is the manner in which they carried out the crime," prosecutor Cynthia Barnes told jurors Feb. 20.

A security camera, used as evidence in the case, showed three men storming into an employee exit as workers tried to leave for the night.

"They yelled at them, they pointed a gun at them, terrified them, threw them to the ground," she said. "But they weren't done yet. They made each victim strip down to their underwear, and bras if they were women."

The 14 hostages were forced into the employee bathroom during the four-hour ordeal where they were told to face the wall and if they turned around to look at their attackers they would die, Barnes said.

"I'm very grateful for the justice system," Carla Zuniga said, a Los Angeles Police Department detective who was in charge of the case. "I'm elated with the verdicts."

Before leaving the courtroom the judge thanked the jurors for their service.

"You have the hardest job in democracy, but are the backbone of our freedom,"Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Ronald Coen said.

Their sentencing is scheduled for April 8. Sherman, whose lawyer said plans to appeal the verdict, faces a maximum sentence of more than 120 years to life in state prison. Hammock and Allen face up to 45 years and 39 years in prison.

Kelly Goff contributed to this report.

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