published Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Federal jury finds man guilty in robbery trial

A federal jury took less than two hours Wednesday to find Michael Lewis Knight guilty on all nine counts against him in the robbery of a Marion County post office.

Knight showed no visible reaction as the verdict was read. Leaning back in his chair, the fingers of his left hand touched his chin as the jury pronounced him guilty.

His mother, nieces and other family sat in the back of Judge Harry “Sandy” Mattice’s courtroom throughout the two-day trial and some cried quietly as they heard the guilty verdict.

Some family members testified earlier Wednesday that they were with Knight on Sand Mountain in Alabama at the time of the Whiteside, Tenn., post office robbery in May 2010.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Brooks implored the jury during his closing arguments to “consider the credibility of the alibi witnesses.”

Knight was convicted on two counts of robbery, two counts of bank fraud, one count of kidnapping, one count of carjacking, one count of possession of stolen property, one count of weapons possession by a convicted felon and a related charge of using a firearm in the commission of a felony. His sentencing is set for July 11.

Federal prosecutors allege that Knight stole money orders and cash at gunpoint from the Whiteside post office on May 22, 2010.

In his opening statement Tuesday, Brooks said that, after the robbery, Knight took post office employee Kimberly Cash as a hostage and drove her truck to a creek, where he’d stashed his white Ford sport utility vehicle.

One week later, Knight cashed more than $2,500 in stolen money orders at the Bank of America in Chattanooga and, a week after that, he cashed another stolen money order at the BB&T in Athens, Tenn., Brooks said.

Investigators later traced the money orders to the Whiteside robbery.

Knight had been convicted in two previous post office robberies, one in 1997 at the Whiteside location, the other in 2001 in Pelham, Tenn.

Brooks said in his closing statement that Knight’s methods in the previous post office robberies and the details of the 2010 robbery were “extraordinarily unique to that man right there,” pointing to Knight.

Knight pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud Tuesday as the trial began, admitting he did have the stolen money orders.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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