Armed robber turns himself in six years later

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - It's not every day cold cases solve themselves, but an accused armed robber has come forward years after allegedly committing his crimes.

On December 6, 2011 then 23-year-old Harrison Coleman allegedly walked into a Family Dollar on Airline Highway armed with a handgun. Police say he forced an employee to hand over around $300, and then took off. But that's not the first armed robbery he's accused of committing.

Three years prior on August 26, 2008 Coleman allegedly walked into a Circle K on Plank Road armed with a handgun, and took cash right out of the register. According to the Affidavit of Probable Cause, Coleman himself previously worked at the gas station, and another employee identified him as the robber. But a warrant was never issued, and the cases went unsolved – until Saturday.

"This is something we don't see very often, but it does occur," said BRPD Cpl. Don Coppola. "In this case for whatever his reasoning was, he decided to come forward and turn himself in."

On Saturday – nearly six years after the first robbery – Coleman walked into BRPD's First District to confess. He was booked into Parish Prison, bonded out, then came back Monday – just 48 hours later – to confess to the other robbery.

"I'm thinking back that this may be the first [case] that I've heard of, surely as DA, possibly in my 40-year career," District Attorney Hillar Moore said. "Surely we don't ever see people taking blames. We always see a lot of casting blame, and this is somewhat encouraging."

Ted James, Coleman's attorney, said his client recently found religion and decided to clear his conscience. Moore said it's too soon to say whether any leniency will be given for Coleman's voluntary change of heart.

"When you're dealing with an armed robbery, you're one trigger pull away from a murder and the possibility of the death penalty. I don't know the facts of the case, but that's a very bad crime to start with," Moore said.

One count of Armed Robbery carries a minimum penalty of ten years behind bars.

Copyright 2014 WAFB. All rights reserved.