Bank robbery trial goes to jury

Two men accused in a June 2008 bank robbery and kidnapping in Paso Robles say that evidence can’t be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to show they committed the crime as their case wrapped up Thursday.

But prosecutor Dave Pomeroy said the case against Tino Ortega Simmons, 34, and Thomas Cameron Kincade, 50, has a long list of evidence pointing to guilt.

Closing arguments concluded in the morning and the jury heard its instructions for deliberation on the case in the afternoon.

Simmons of Bakersfield and Kincade of Fontana pleaded not guilty to charges including kidnapping while committing a robbery and false imprisonment in a takeover-style heist caught on a surveillance camera on June 24, 2008, at Citibank at 16th and Spring streets.

Charles Kelly Kilgore, Simmons’ attorney, said a lack of fingerprint evidence on motorcycle helmets the men allegedly used and no specific witness identification creates reasonable doubt.

“A prosecutor’s favorite moment in a trial is to ask a witness to point out the man in the room who committed the crime,” Kilgore said. “They couldn’t do that because there’s no direct evidence that Simmons and Kincade did this.”

Kincade – acting as his own attorney – argued that he and Simmons have been friends for 17 years and ride motorcycles together. He said “nothing in the way of evidence” tied him to the robbery.

Kincade pointed to cell phone evidence that connected him to a phone registered in a woman’s name, and said there was no way for the FBI to know who was making those calls. “The evidence shows that it can’t be concluded that I was at the bank,” Kincade said.

Witnesses at the bank said two African-American men wearing motorcycle helmets that covered their faces came into Citibank and told them to get on the ground. Surveillance images displayed in court show one of the men had a gun in his hand.

Kincade and Simmons are both African-American.

Pomeroy pointed to evidence of Kincade’s DNA and Simmons’ DNA on bandanas found at Simmons’ home in Bakersfield that he said appear to match bandanas used in the robbery. He pointed to clothing found in the home he says appears to be used in the robbery, and how Kincade was arrested after being found driving the van witnesses said was the getaway vehicle.

The $119,500 investigators said they found in Simmons’ home, the same amount taken in the heist, points to their guilt as well, Pomeroy said.

Pomeroy said the jury should accept what’s reasonable and decide for themselves what points to innocence or guilt.

In his closing argument, Kilgore noted that investigators didn’t have evidence of the men casing the bank for the heist or any recorded phone calls from their surveillance that the men were planning or carried out the heist.

“We don’t know who used the phones and you can’t believe it was (the defendants) just because the government believes so,” Kilgore said.

The trial began April 26 in Judge Barry LaBarbera’s courtroom.