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CONVENIENCE STORE ROBBERY CASE HEADED TO TRIAL

Published October 11. 2013 4:00AM

Jury selection began Thursday in New London Superior Court in the case of a man who is accused of holding up a Norwich convenience store with a knife on July 28, 2012.

Rodney Hagins, 41, formerly of 123 W. Thames St., has been held in lieu of $250,000 bond since he was arrested shortly after the incident and charged with first-degree robbery and sixth-degree larceny. Police said he walked into Best Mart at 275 Central Ave. armed with a knife, grabbed the store clerk and demanded money, then took an undisclosed amount of cash from the register and fled. He has pleaded not guilty.

On Thursday, prosecutor Stephen M. Carney added two charges of tampering with a witness, saying Hagins had written letters from prison to two potential witnesses asking them to provide false information.

Hagins' attorney, Linda J. Sullivan, argued the new charges should be tried separately because it would be unduly prejudicial to join the cases. Judge Barbara Bailey Jongbloed reviewed the letters, found them "cross-admissible," and ruled the tampering charges could be tried with the robbery charges.

The trial is expected to begin Thursday before a jury of six regular members and two alternates, and to last three to four days. In taking the case to trial, Hagins rejected an offer from the state to plead guilty in exchange for an eight-year prison sentence.

- Karen Florin

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