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A lack of evidence against one man accused of being involved in a November robbery of two gas station employees led to dropped charges Thursday.
Williamsburg-James City County General District Judge Colleen Killilea heard from three witnesses Thursday during a preliminary hearing and ruled their testimony did not prove 21-year-old Tysean Ransome did anything but sit in the car during the time of the alleged robbery.
Ransome and three others — Dijon Boyd, Dominnic Christian and Donte Nelson — are accused of going to the Star Express on Old Stage Road in Toano the night of Dec. 29.
Police say two of the four suspects — Boyd and Nelson — went into the convenience store, held the two employees working at the time at gunpoint, demanded money from them and then forced them into a freezer.
Meanwhile, Ransome and Christian are suspected of waiting for the other two men in Christian’s green, two-door car across the street.
Christian, 21, testified against Ransome on Thursday, explaining Ransome sat in the car with him while Boyd and Nelson went to the Star Express.
He said he got a call from Boyd, 19, at around midnight Dec. 29 and was asked to pick up the other three men at an apartment complex in Williamsburg and drive them to the “middle of nowhere” to rob someone.
After picking the men up, Christian drove to the Star Express and parked in the driveway of an abandoned home located next to the Shell gas station, which sits across the street from the Star Express.
He said Nelson, Boyd and Ransome got out of the car upon arrival, pulled items out of the trunk and walked toward the Shell gas station.
Five to seven minutes later, the three came back, Ransome got into the front passenger seat of the car and the other two men left again in the same direction as before.
Christian testified that at one point Ransome said “it wasn’t the right move.”
Ransome’s attorney Carter Phillips argued that based on the prosecution’s evidence, his client was not seen holding any guns, was not seen going into a gas station and had no participation in the robbery.
Killilea sided with Phillips and dismissed a felony robbery charge, a felony conspiracy to commit robbery charge and a felony use of a firearm charge.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Gaten agreed to drop a second felony robbery charge, a second felony use of a firearm charge, a second felony abduction charge and a misdemeanor assault charge before the preliminary hearing.
Gaten said he plans to directly indict Ransome on all seven counts after gathering more evidence.
Killilea also heard from one of the gas station employees, who said two men wearing gray hoodies, black pants and ski masks held him and his female coworker at gunpoint and demanded access to the store’s safe — which he and his coworker could not access — and the cash registers.
The man said one of the men struck him in the back of the head with a gun, which caused him to fall to the ground.
He also testified one of the men, who was carrying a blue bag and holding a chrome gun, was “spastic” and “nervous” and kept pacing around the store while demanding he open the safe.
After placing money from the cash register and cigarettes into the blue bag, the two suspects forced the two employees to walk across the store to the Subway restaurant located inside the gas station.
There, they demanded access to Subway’s cash registers, but the employees could not open them.
The suspects then forced the employees into a cooler, where they waited for a few minutes until they believed the suspects had left the store.
When the employee called 911, he was told police were already on the scene.
James City County Police Officer Jason Shadrix testified next, saying he saw one of the men — later identified as Boyd — running across the streets toward Christian’s car with a blue bag and a gun in tow.
Shadrix was able to arrest Boyd, Ransome — who was in the front passenger seat — and Christian, who was in the driver’s seat.
Police said officers recovered the stolen items and a .380 pistol in the suspects’ vehicle, which was later found to have been stolen from Newport News.
Nelson, 20, was located in the Lafayette Square subdivision the next day and arrested.
The four men originally faced two counts of robbery, two counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, two counts of abduction and one misdemeanor count of assault.
Nelson had one robbery charge, one abduction charge, one use of a firearm charge and a misdemeanor assault charge dropped Thursday and waived his preliminary hearing on the remaining felony charges.
Christian waived his preliminary hearing on one count of robbery, and the other six charges were dropped.
A trial date for Nelson and Christian has not yet been set.
Boyd’s case was continued until 8 a.m. April 16.