Audible clue leads to suspect's arrest

Yalanda Smith (Source: Newport Police Dept.)
Yalanda Smith (Source: Newport Police Dept.)

NEWPORT, AR (KAIT) - She may have been wearing a mask, but police say a woman charged with robbing a local convenience store couldn't mask her voice.

Yalanda Smith, 39, of Newport is accused of robbing Doublebee's Exxon, 1600 Malcolm Avenue.

According to an email from Lt. Patrick Weatherford of the Newport Police Department, an employee said Smith came into the store just before 7:30 a.m. Sunday wearing a mask, dark clothing and carrying a backpack.

The worker said Smith jumped over the counter with a long fixed-blade knife and demanded money.

After getting an undisclosed amount of cash, Weatherford said the suspect then demanded the clerk's car keys.

The clerk ran out of the store and flagged down a passing motorist to call 911.

When police arrived at the store, the clerk identified Smith as the suspect based upon her voice.

The clerk also said Smith was a former employee.

Two witnesses told police Smith had asked them for a ride to Harmony Homes Apartments, located in the 1100-block of North Pecan.  The witnesses didn't know Smith by name, according to the report, but they recognized her as being a former employee at the store.

Officers went to the apartment and took Smith into custody.

After securing a search warrant, officers entered the apartment and reportedly found a knife, backpack and clothing matching the clerk's description of the suspect.  They also found coins and cash matching the approximate amount reported stolen in the robbery, Weatherford said.

Smith was taken to the Jackson County Detention Center to await a probable cause hearing on Monday.  She is expected to be charged with aggravated robbery and theft of property, both felonies.

According to Weatherford, Smith has been previously convicted of at least 9 felonies and is currently on parole.

Due to her status as a habitual offender, if convicted she could face a possible prison sentence of 10 years to life.

A judge has set Smith's bond at $250,000 and she will appear in court again Jan. 21.

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