Pair gets life in Lake Wylie bank heist

YORK -- Two Charlotte men were sentenced to life in prison Friday for robbing a York County bank and leading police on a high-speed chase into Charlotte.

Johnell Porter, Kenneth Young and Donshavis Jones, all of Charlotte, robbed Lake Wylie's Bank of York of $18,016 in December, court testimony notes. Then the men sped away in a Ford Taurus that was driven by Angela Laws.

A jury Thursday found Porter and Young guilty of multiple charges, including bank robbery, armed robbery, kidnapping, entering a bank with intent to steal, conspiracy to commit armed robbery and possession of a firearm during a violent crime, said 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett. Young also was charged with aggravated assault after he used Mace on employees and customers, he said.

Porter, 56, and Young, 51, were sentenced to three life terms in prison without parole by Judge John Hayes III, Brackett said.

"John Porter is a professional bank robber," Brackett said. "He's been in and out of jail his whole life. Kenneth Young also is a career criminal."

Donshavis Jones, 23, Porter's grandson, pleaded guilty in April to entering a bank with intent to steal. He testified against Porter and Young and on Friday received a six-year sentence, Brackett said.

Laws, 41, of Charlotte, also testified against Porter and Young. On Friday, she received a six-year sentence for entering a bank with the intent to steal. She also received six years for attempted armed robbery; five years for criminal conspiracy, and three years for failure to stop for blue light. All will run concurrently, Brackett said.

Charges against the group stem from an incident that happened on Dec. 22 at 4955 Charlotte Highway. Around 10:30 a.m., bank video shows three masked men exiting a gray, four-door Taurus and entering the bank. Porter was armed with a 9mm pistol, and Young was armed with a 38 caliber revolver, Brackett said.

The video shows Jones entering the bank clutching a white pillowcase. Young and Porter point their guns at seven bank employees, an 82-year-old man and another customer.

"They are made to get on the floor and crawl to the vault in the back," Brackett said after court Friday. "Young is Macing them as they crawl."

The victims were herded into the vault, where Jones stuffed money into the pillowcase and forced employees to open other safes in the vault to get more money, Brackett said.

The men fled with $18,016, of which $500 was marked, and headed toward the Buster Boyd Bridge, Brackett said. A woman, who had been waiting at the drive-through window, noted the car had an old North Carolina dealer's tag taped over the real tag, Brackett said.

The car continued down S.C. 49 toward Charlotte. York County sheriff's deputies attempted to stop the car, he said.

"The Taurus accelerated, and a high-speed chase ensued," Brackett said about the chase down Carowinds Boulevard and onto Interstate 77, where Laws' speed topped 80 mph.

Laws got off the interstate, turned into an apartment complex and hit a dead end, the video showed.

Jones, Laws, Porter and Young remained in custody Friday at Moss Justice Center. They will be transferred to a state prison at a later date.

• Security camera footage of the Lake Wylie bank robbery at: