I TEAM: Violent crime spree solved with tiny clues

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CUYAHOGA COUNTY - The FOX 8 I TEAM has found two men going away to prison for decades for a violent crime spree, and we’ve learned investigators built the case with an unusual string of clues.

In fact, the first break in the case came after an officer noticed bubbles in a bottle of iced tea after a robbery of a convenience store.

The crimes involved 7 armed hold-ups of businesses from downtown to the eastern suburbs. A man with what police called a sub-machine gun held the weapon to clerks and even customers during the robberies of the stores.

In Richmond Heights, police reviewed security video just after a stick-up, and an officer saw the gunman had picked up a bottle of iced tea. Police found that specific bottle because it still had bubbles inside from being handled. Officers then got DNA from the bottle.

Meantime, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s office Crime Strategies Unit worked to bring together police from the towns hit by the robbers. And detectives started sharing every clue they could.

Eleina Thomas, Asst. Cuyahoga Co Prosecutor, said, “Through that (DNA) we were able to identify a suspect. Then we looked at the videos from the other 6 incidents and were able to see identifying factors from that particular person. We had an ID whether he was wearing the same clothes, same mannerisms, same getaway car."

Investigators also noticed a second suspect wearing a cast. So, eventually, detectives even tracked down the medical technician who’d put the cast on that man.

On Tuesday, both suspects faced Cuyahoga County Judge Maureen Clancy. She gave Carl Lavette 24 years in prison. Then, when Christopher Everette came up for sentencing, he apologized, and defense attorney John Luskin asked for mercy. Luskin pointed out, after Everette got arrested, he cooperated with investigators. His loved ones then even faced gang retaliation. But in the end, he got a 20-year sentence.

Two men now doing decades in prison for a crime spree solved by investigators looking at every clue.