CONYERS -- Nathan Christopher Dwight, 22, dropped his head and audibly wept when he was found guilty of robbing a Hispanic food store at gunpoint last summer while wearing a disguise of fake dreadlocks.
But a silent pat on the back from Dwight's attorney, Public Defender Daniel Partain, was the only solace for Dwight after the jury of six men and six women returned an unanimous guilty verdict late Thursday afternoon after the four-day trial in Rockdale Superior Court.
Chief Superior Court Judge Sidney Nation presided over the trial proceedings in which Dwight was convicted on charges of armed robbery, three counts of aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
The robbery occurred about 9:30 a.m. Aug. 17 at the Bella Vista 2, located at 1373 Iris Drive in the Salem Gate Shopping Center when a black man wearing a white T-shirt, faded black jeans, sunglasses and a Jamaican-style hat with dreadlocks entered the store, brandished a gun and demanded money, according to the store employees who testified this week. The man made away with about $1,100 in cash in a car that was carjacked from a pregnant woman in DeKalb County about an hour before the Bella Vista robbery.
Dwight was arrested 10 days after the incident after the car -- with a white T-shirt in the backseat -- was found near his Iris Glen apartment complex.
Assistant District Attorney Dabney Kentner, who prosecuted the case, reminded the jury of the "overwhelming" evidence during Thursday's closing arguments and asked jurors to return a verdict that speaks the truth.
"You care about your community," Kentner said. "You get how horrible (the crime) was, and I know you don't wish to see this type of crime in your community."
The defense argued throughout the proceedings and in closing arguments Thursday that none of the state's witnesses identified Dwight by a prominent tattoo on his neck, fingerprints found at the scene did not match Dwight's and Dwight had an alibi. The defense had a friend of Dwight's testify that she saw Dwight in her home sleeping during the time of the crime.
"I believe there's reasonable doubt," Partain said.
In addition to arguing that Dwight did not have a car to travel from the DeKalb County carjacking to the Conyers robbery, Partain contended the state tried to undermine the credibility of the defense's only witness in the case.
About 3:30 p.m. Thursday, the jury returned from chambers to ask to see the videotaped interview of Dwight after he was arrested, in which Dwight told investigators he was at his apartment during the time of the robbery.
After the jury returned its verdict, Partain asked for the jury to be polled. The judge asked each juror individually if the guilty verdict was his or her choice.
Under Georgia law, the judge said earlier this week that Dwight could possibly face more than life in prison as a maximum sentence for all charges.
Partain and Kentner agreed to the defense counsel's request to defer sentencing until a time when witnesses can be brought in to address the court before the judge imposes a sentence.
Nation scheduled the sentencing hearing for July 8.