Home invasion mastermind convicted

By MICHAEL BORDELON

LSN

VILLE PLATTE -- A man found guilty of masterminding a horrifying home invasion gone awry, and accused of another, faces a three-century maximum sentence.

Charles Edward Grace, 35, 1304 W. Live Oak, Ville Platte was convicted of two counts of armed robbery, two counts of conspiracy to commit armed robbery, aggravated burglary and conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary.

The incident these charges stem from occured March 3, 2009, when Grace planned for Gavin Herbert and Antonio Thomas, his nephew, to invade the home of his ex-girlfriend and steal money from an occupant there.

Herbert testified Grace claimed one of the occupants would have $50,000 in cash inside the house.

Herbert also testified he and Thomas were driven to an abandoned house by Grace to retrieve a sawed-off shotgun. During the drive, Herbert said Grace informed him and Thomas of the “mission.”

Prosecutors stated Grace was able to give Herbert and Thomas intimate details of the home and where to locate a pistol in one of the bedrooms because he had stayed there when he was dating the occupant.

Herbert also stated he and Thomas broke into the home located on Hickory Street, retrieved a pistol from one of the bedrooms and waited for the occupants to return.

It was during this time, prosecutors said Thomas made a call to Grace and the two had a heated exchange, allegedly because Thomas found no money inside the house.

The first people to return home were two teenagers. They were tied up with clothing and placed in a bedroom.

Then, several other occupants returned to the home and were taken hostage.

Herbert said he and Thomas made those occupants lie on the floor and sit on the sofa. They took money from each of them.

Eventually, one of the victims, Kininsky Larnette, who supposedly had the $50,000 in cash, said he would take Thomas to his girlfriend’s home where he was keeping the money.

Larnette testified he did not have $50,000 but was trying to get Thomas away from the home and his friends. Upon arriving at Larnette’s girlfriend’s home, Thomas was fatally shot.

Herbert had remained at the home on Hickory Street and fled once police officers arrived. He was arrested soon after.

Prosecutors said Grace masterminded the whole burglary.

Sentencing for Grace is scheduled for May 13, in 13th Judicial District Court Judge John Larry Vidrine’s courtroom. Grace faces a maximum of 343 years in prison at hard labor.

Grace is also scheduled for trial in April on charges of aggravated burglary, aggravated kidnapping, armed robbery, criminal damage to property and possession of an unidentifiable firearm in a case involving another home invasion.

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