The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

March 22, 2013

Man assessed year in jail in robbery case

A 21-year-old man was assessed one year in jail Friday in a Joplin home robbery case and was released from custody on credit for time already served.

Payton D. Harbin entered an Alford plea to a reduced charge of stealing at a hearing in Jasper County Circuit Court. An Alford plea admits no guilt but acknowledges the likelihood of a conviction if the matter were to proceed to trial.

Harbin, who was facing charges of first-degree robbery and armed criminal action, entered the plea to the lesser offense in a deal with the prosecutor’s office that called for a one-year jail sentence and credit for time already served. Circuit Judge David Mouton accepted the plea agreement, pronounced the sentence and ordered Harbin released from custody.

The defendant was one of four suspects originally charged with forcibly robbing Michael Smith Jr. and Meagan Wilson at gunpoint on April 14, 2011, inside their home on North Wall Avenue. Wilson testified at a preliminary hearing in 2011 that Tayvon D. Smith, 21, came to their home with three other men, one of whom stayed outside.

One of the men produced a handgun and Wilson and Michael Smith were ordered down on the floor. Wilson, who was pregnant at the time, told the court that Tayvon Smith kicked her in the face. The suspects then took $200 cash from the victims, their cellphones, credit cards and personal identification, a necklace, a video game system, stereo speakers and an amplifier and left.

Tayvon Smith was convicted of robbery, burglary and assault and assessed two 15-year terms and a seven-year term in prison, with all three sentences to run concurrently.

Charges against a third suspect, Robey R. Patton, 25, were dropped when video evidence surfaced that he was elsewhere at the time of the crime and could not have been involved. The prosecutor also eventually dropped charges against Clayton J. Hackett, 27, because of a lack of evidence.