September 22, 2016 11:08:55 AM
A Noxubee County man has been convicted in a jury trial for two counts armed robbery and burglary of a residence after he broke into an elderly couples' Macon home.
Nathaniel McKeithan, 28, broke into the home on June 12, 2015, while 86-year-old Richard Barge and his wife, Inez, were at McDonald's getting milkshakes, according to Mississippi 16th Circuit District Attorney Scott Colom.
McKeithan is scheduled to be sentenced at 9 a.m. Friday.
Colom said McKeithan was with a second suspect, who is still at large. He said both men covered their faces with bandannas during the robbery.
McKeithan's trial began Monday in Noxubee County Circuit Court. Colom said jurors reached the decision after deliberating for less than 45 minutes.
Richard Barge, speaking to The Dispatch after the conviction, said the two men knocked him and his wife over the couch after the returned home from McDonald's. The incident happened at about 9:40 p.m.
"They threw us over the couch," he said. "We had milkshakes and they went everywhere. They put afghans over us, but I could see through it. First they asked for my wallet. They took my cellphone and brought up the BankFirst website. They asked for my PIN three different times but I kept giving them the wrong number."
Colom said the robbers demanded jewelry and a purse. He said they grabbed an air rifle that was in the home and threatened Richard with it, and struck him in the face, either with their hands or the rifle.
McKeithan was caught on camera at a BankFirst ATM attempting to use the stolen debit card within three to five minutes of leaving the Barge residence, Colom said.
Colom also noted, though he hadn't recognized him at the time, Barge had already interacted with McKeithan earlier in the day.
"Mr. Barge testified that around 11:30 that morning, McKeithan came by his house and asked for direction to Noxubee County High School and Central Academy," Colom said. "Another neighbor testified that he went to their house and asked for directions at 12:30. There's evidence that he was scoping out houses before the robbery."
Colom said McKeithan has previously been convicted for an armed bank robbery in Noxubee County.
Barge thanked the DA's office and law enforcement for help in solving the case. He also said he and his wife received a lot of support from the community.
"I was really pleased at the decision the jury made," Barge said. "I couldn't have asked for a better job by the district attorney in presenting it. We couldn't ask for better cooperation with the police and sheriff's department, and we're thankful to the jury. You never know what the verdict will be, but they quickly gave a decision."
Alex Holloway was formerly a reporter with The Dispatch.
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