2 men convicted in $1.3 million OC jewelry heist

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2But Zidbeck said “there was never information to lead us to believe they knew” the gem was at the store. Edwards and Watkins entered the store first, around opening time, and got the owners to open a safe before tying them up, Zidbeck said. Kirkwood allegedly came in later, the prosecutor said. One of the owners was “able to shimmy over and trigger a silent alarm,” and police had the store surrounded before the robbery was completed, Zidbeck said. The men stuffed the loose gems from the safe and the rings, necklaces and watches from the cases into two bags that were eventually recovered, Zidbeck said. Edwards and Kirkwood, who was allegedly holding one of the bags, were arrested as soon as they ran out a back door, Zidbeck said. SANTA ANA – Two men were convicted Tuesday of stealing $1.3 million worth of gems and jewelry from a Corona del Mar store, which had removed a 13.4-carat diamond from display four days before the heist. Dominic Edwards, 34, and Kenney Dwayne Watkins, 28, both of Los Angeles, were convicted of multiple counts stemming from the Oct. 27, 2004, robbery at Jewels by Joseph in the Corona del Mar Plaza shopping center. Trial is still pending for a third man, Herbert Nelson Kirkwood, 33, who is due in court for a pretrial hearing on June 16, said Deputy District Attorney Scott Zidbeck. Police speculated the men had been attracted to the store by news reports that the American Star, a diamond valued at $2.3 million and described as the “world’s largest, most perfectly cut diamond,” was displayed there. Watkins ran into an adjacent gelato store, pulled a gun and demanded the keys to a car from a store employee, but those inside the store ran outside, according to police reports. The store was surrounded by SWAT officers and Watkins later surrendered after injuring his leg while trying to escape via the attic to other businesses, police said. The other bag of jewelry was found in the gelato store, and some jewels were recovered from one of the defendant’s pockets, authorities said. “The victims said the retail loss was $1.3 million,” Zidbeck said. Some small diamonds may have spilled out from the bags, but “the vast, vast majority was recovered,” he said. Both Edwards and Watkins, who is believed to be a member of a Los Angeles street gang, face sentencing on July 28, after Orange County Superior Court Judge Patrick Donahue holds a separate hearing on whether prior convictions alleged by prosecutors are true, Zidbeck said. Depending on the judge’s findings, the two could face sentences ranging to 30 years or so for Watkins and 17 or 18 years for Edwards, Zidbeck said.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more