Cigarette butts lead to arrest, conviction in string of armed robberies

Cigarette butts lead to arrest, conviction in string of armed robberies

JEFFERSON PARISH, LA (WVUE) - Cigarette butts left at a crime scene turned out to be the key piece of evidence for the Jefferson Parish Sherriff's Office in a string of armed robberies.

Damion Savage, 42, faces hundreds of years in prison after a jury convicted him of committing four armed robberies.

The investigation began on Jan. 23, 2011 when two masked men robbed the Subway on Barataria Boulevard in Marrero.  Police say the two armed, masked men entered the restaurant as employees were closing and demanded the cashier open the safe. The cashier could not get the safe to open, so the two robbers made off with about $1,150 from the cash register.

The same Subway was robbed in a similar manner on March 6, 2011. Then, the Subway restaurant on Jefferson Highway in Old Jefferson and the GameStop outlet on Promenade Boulevard in Marrero were both robbed by two armed, masked men who fit the description of the first two Subway robberies.

Detectives were initially stumped, according to the DA's office. None of the victims could identify the suspects because of their masks, but officers found cigarette butts at two crime scenes with Jonathan Isaac's DNA on them.

Isaac, 54, has yet to stand trial, but his connection is key to Damion Savage's arrest and conviction.

According to the DA's office, detectives searched Isaac's cell phone call history and noticed extensive communication between him and Savage around the time of the robberies. Officers went to Savage's apartment to question him about the robberies, where he initially denied taking part in them.

However, the DA's office says Savage confessed to the robberies after detectives found two caps, a jacket and shoes that were identical to those worn by one of the armed robbers.

"He identified himself, 'Yes, detective, that was me.'" Said Assistant District Attorney Angel Varnado, who prosecuted the case with Blair Constant.   "He confessed to each one of the robberies."

Savage maintained his innocence in court though. He claims he testified while under the influence of heroin and that officers threatened to tell his wife's employer that she had been charged with a narcotics possession case unless he confessed.

"I didn't commit any robbery," Savage testified Friday. "They got the wrong person, that's what they have."

Despite Savage's defense, a jury convicted him Friday, Feb. 19, on six counts of Armed Robbery, one for each victim in the four robberies.

Savage will be sentenced on Feb. 25. He faces up to 104 years in prison on each count.

Savage also has pending charges for possession of heroin, possession of hyrocodone and possession of drug paraphernalia that date back to 2010, before he was arrested in the armed robbery cases.

The DA says Savage also faces a battery on a correction officer charge for allegedly punching a jailer trying to remove illegal contraband from his cell in February 2013.

Isaac will stand trial in late June on five counts of armed robbery, according to the DA's office. He is charged with committing all of the armed robberies with Savage except for the Subway robbery that occurred on Jan 23., 2011.

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