Jury Finds Darton Guilty

Nacombi Darton

A trial was held Monday, January 7th, in Centerville for Nacombi Darton of the Houston area who was charged with Soliciting a Minor for Prostitution. A Leon County Jury of 9 women and 4 men (one female serving as alternate) took a short time at deliberation before rendering a guilty verdict after hearing evidence. The Honorable District Judge Deborah Oakes Evans presided.

District Attorney Hope Knight and Assistant District Attorney Keith Cook presented the jury with five witnesses including the victim, victim?s father, a store manager, and two police officers. The jury also heard the 911 call and watched the video which captured the incident. The crime occurred in Buffalo at Gilliam?s Grocery on April 18, 2018.

Attorney John Bankhead, representing Darton, presented a straight forward defense in his opening comments. Bankhead asked the jury to listen carefully to the facts as presented from the witnesses and not judge his client on anything said by the prosecution or the judge or himself. Bankhead also reminded the jury that the burden of proof was on the state, and Darton was not required to testify himself.

The jury heard the following facts of the incident from the witnesses: On April 18th, a family of four from Centerville, consisting of the mother, father, and two school age daughters, had decided to take the daughters from school that day and drive to Limestone Lake to fish.

The family stopped in Buffalo at Gilliam?s where the father and oldest daughter, who was 14 years old and in the eighth grade, went inside. The father went straight to the restroom while his daughter waited in the front of the store near the ice cream freezer where she was engaged with her cell phone.

The manager of Gilliam?s said that she had already observed Darton standing outside the store before the family arrived and had watched him because it seemed to her Darton was not purchasing gasoline or anything inside. Darton entered the store and approached the girl while she was standing alone and asked her in obscene terms to perform oral sex for $20.

The girl, appearing shocked and scared, did not say anything but left to join her father who was now in the back of the store. The father went immediately towards Darton, who was leaving the store, and confronted him outside.

The father testified that Darton at first apologized saying he did not know the girl was a minor. But when a crowd started to gather, Darton changed his response and said he did not know what he had done or what was wrong. The store manager told a clerk to call 911 in response to the commotion. When Darton heard the police had been notified, he walked away from the premises headed west toward Interstate 45.

The police apprehended Darton shortly after being notified. Buffalo Chief Lance Pavelka testified concerning a note he found in Darton?s possession. The jury was able to see the note and read the contents which were remarks about public places in Buffalo and Darton?s observation of ?good looking women? and ?easy accessible?.

Darton had arrived in Buffalo on a bus a few days before this incident and has been held in the Leon County Jail since his arrest. Darton remained quiet during the trial and did not testify in his own defense. Most of the time, Darton had his face partially covered by his hand, and occasionally spoke to his attorney.

Darton chose to have the sentencing phase of his trial decided by the judge and not by the jury who had rendered the guilty verdict. Judge Evans set a date in February to hear arguments prior sentencing. Evans also ordered a pre-sentencing investigation to be completed.