One suspect pleads guilty in robbery

CONYERS -- One of the men accused of killing a Newton County woman while fleeing the scene of an armed robbery and eluding authorities has pleaded guilty to all associated charges except for murder.

Ntyono Aaron Oketo Pennie, 21, of Conyers pleaded guilty to several criminal charges Thursday morning before Rockdale County Chief Superior Court Judge Sidney Nation.

Pennie's Feb. 23 arrest stemmed from an armed robbery on Harvest Grove Lane involving Pennie and 27-year-old Torrence Sanders of Lithonia. Pennie and Sanders made away with $500 during the heist after shooting one of the robbery victims in the arm. The men fled from law enforcement by running a red light at an intersection on Flat Shoals Road and eventually crashing into a car driven by Shirley Akins, 56, of Covington. Akins died of injuries from the crash.

The case was one of the murder cases that Judge Nation specially set for trial next Monday.

Rockdale County District Attorney Richard Read told the Citizen on Wednesday that Pennie indicated through his attorney that he was willing to plead guilty to three counts of armed robbery, three counts of aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, obstruction of a law enforcement officer and violation of the Georgia Controlled Substance Act.

Though Pennie pleaded guilty, the judge will impose sentencing at a later date, according to Read.

Pennie was also indicted for felony murder, but did not enter a guilty plea to the murder charge on Thursday.

"There were aspects of his plea that are non-negotiated," Read said. "The felony murder count remains open at this point in time."

Rockdale County Sheriff's deputies arrested Pennie on the scene following the February crash, but Sanders exited the car and fled on foot. Sanders was determined to be the driver of the vehicle that caused the fatal crash.

Sanders remained at-large until DeKalb County authorities picked him up Sept. 2.

According to DeKalb's online jail tracking system, Sanders was in a vehicle with a 25-year-old Decatur man who was stopped for a traffic violation involving his windshield. The Decatur man has been released on bond. Sanders was charged with obstruction and giving a false name to a law enforcement officer in DeKalb, but faces 21 different criminal and traffic charges related to the February armed robbery incident in Rockdale County, including two felony murder charges.

Sanders remains in custody at the DeKalb County Jail and will likely answer his charges in DeKalb County before being brought to Rockdale.