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VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS (VZ)
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Verizon Communications : Two charged in Palmer Township killing linked to cellphone store robberies; police say one suspect confessed

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12/13/2017 | 04:14am CET

Dec. 13--The two men cased the Verizon Wireless store in Forks Township, authorities now believe, hoping to pull off the second armed robbery there in weeks.

This time, the plan was different. They watched the shop on Town Center Boulevard and followed its employees home from work to learn where they lived. This time, according to the police account, the idea was to abduct a clerk after hours, bring him back to the store and force him to unlock the door and disable the alarm.

The first attempt last year ended tragically, Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli said Tuesday, when 25-year-old Michael E. Davis apparently resisted the gunmen and was killed outside his Palmer Township home.

But despite that, a day later the pair tried again, accosting the store's manager outside his home, also in Palmer, authorities said. Knowing Davis' fate, that man was able to escape, breaking free from zip ties that aimed to bind him and jumping from a moving vehicle to get away, according to court records.

For months, a task force of law enforcement officials probed the killing of Davis and the near abduction of 30-year-old Michael J. Derose, which authorities believed were tied to a string of robberies at cellphone stores in the Lehigh Valley.

At a news conference Tuesday, Morganelli announced charges in the case, saying the two men long suspected in Davis' slaying -- Gregory Lewis Jr. and Vaughn D. Felix -- could face life in prison without parole, and potentially the death penalty, if convicted of murder.

Gregory Lewis Jr. leaves court Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, after being charged with homicide in the 2016 killing of 25-year-old Michael E. Davis, who was ambushed after returning from his job at a Verizon store.

Gregory Lewis Jr. leaves court Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, after being charged with homicide in the 2016 killing of 25-year-old Michael E. Davis, who was ambushed after returning from his job at a Verizon store.

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Vaughn Felix leaves court Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, after being charged with homicide in the 2016 killing of 25-year-old Michael E. Davis, who was ambushed after returning from his job at a Verizon store.

Vaughn Felix leaves court Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, after being charged with homicide in the 2016 killing of 25-year-old Michael E. Davis, who was ambushed after returning from his job at a Verizon store.

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Vaughn Felix and Gregory Lewis started watching the Verizon Wireless Store in Forks Township and its three employees. -- Police on the motivation of homicide suspects Gregory Lewis Jr. and Vaughn D. Felix

In bringing the homicide charges, Morganelli credited old-fashioned police work and technological resources, saying investigators were able to use cellphone records to place when and where Lewis and Felix were. Ballistics testing from a handgun seized from Felix's home in Easton matched that of the gun used to kill Davis, Morganelli said.

But according to the arrest affidavits, police also got help from an unexpected source: On Dec. 4, Felix and his attorney met with investigators, when he allegedly described the killing and the attempted abduction, named his co-defendant, and reportedly said he was the triggerman who shot Davis once in the face.

Felix's statements to authorities were not mentioned during the news conference, though Assistant District Attorney Patricia Mulqueen referred to them obliquely, saying that last week police "received more information" and "were satisfied it was time to charge."

CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

Gregory Lewis Jr. (left) and Vaughn D. Felix (right) have been charged with homicide in the 2016 killing of 25-year-old Michael E. Davis, who was ambushed after returning from his job at a Verizon store.

Gregory Lewis Jr. (left) and Vaughn D. Felix (right) have been charged with homicide in the 2016 killing of 25-year-old Michael E. Davis, who was ambushed after returning from his job at a Verizon store. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS)

Northampton County DA John Morganelli talks about Michael E. Davis, a Palmer Township man who was gunned down outside his home in 2016. Morganelli has announced homicide charges against two men long suspected in the killing, which prosecutors say was tied to a string of armed robberies at cellphone stores in the Lehigh Valley.

Northampton County DA John Morganelli talks about Michael E. Davis, a Palmer Township man who was gunned down outside his home in 2016. Morganelli has announced homicide charges against two men long suspected in the killing, which prosecutors say was tied to a string of armed robberies at cellphone stores in the Lehigh Valley.

SEE MORE VIDEOS

Mulqueen declined to comment afterward on whether Felix was offered anything for his cooperation. Felix's lawyer, Brian Monahan, also declined to comment.

Davis was ambushed on Nov. 21, 2016, on Eldridge Avenue after returning from his job at the Verizon store, police said. Weeks before, Felix allegedly told police, he had robbed the store and decided to do so a second time, with the help of Lewis.

"Vaughn Felix and Gregory Lewis started watching the Verizon Wireless Store in Forks Township and its three employees," police wrote in the affidavit. "Felix and Lewis followed the employees home to see where they lived."

During the planned abduction, Davis was shot by Felix when he "refused to get into the rear seat of his vehicle," police wrote.

The homicide charges weren't unexpected: Lewis and Felix are already jailed on charges stemming from the string of armed robberies, and their lawyers in July publicly named them as suspects in the shooting.

He was a person who had a thirst for knowledge, who loved reading, music, hiking and sports and had a genuine interest in people" -- Northampton County DA on homicide victim Michael E. Davis

DAVIS FAMILY / CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Michael E. Davis, 25, was gunned down in November 2016 outside his home in Palmer Township. Authorities announced charges in connection with his death on Tuesday.

Michael E. Davis, 25, was gunned down in November 2016 outside his home in Palmer Township. Authorities announced charges in connection with his death on Tuesday. (DAVIS FAMILY / CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

At the news conference, Morganelli took time to honor Davis, a 2009 graduate of Easton Area High School, where he played football and lacrosse and participated in band and orchestra.

Morganelli said he met with Davis' family on Tuesday and wanted to publicly describe their loss. Morganelli called Davis "a happy, intelligent, hard-working, dependable and trustworthy young man" who had once saved a friend from drowning.

"He was a person who had a thirst for knowledge, who loved reading, music, hiking and sports and had a genuine interest in people," Morganelli said. "His family and friends considered him to be somewhat wiser than his 25 years."

Family members of Davis' attended the news conference, offering appreciation afterward for investigators' doggedness.

We would like to thank law enforcement for everything they've done, and their diligence in this. They were tireless. -- Russ Davis, father of homicide victim Michael Davis

"We would like to thank law enforcement for everything they've done, and their diligence in this," said Davis' father, Russ Davis. "They were tireless."

Lewis and Felix, both 27, were first arrested in March, when they were accused of the robbery of a Verizon store on Broadway in Wind Gap. During the Feb. 9 stickup, authorities said, a clerk was bound with zip ties and more than $38,000 in cellphones and accessories, as well as cash, was stolen.

A law enforcement task force has since been steadily adding additional charges against Felix and Lewis, of Wilson. Lewis' lawyer, James Brose, declined to comment Tuesday.

This summer, the pair were charged in the Jan. 16 robbery of a Verizon store on West Tilghman Street in South Whitehall Township in which $27,000 in merchandise was stolen. At the same time, Felix was also charged in the robbery of the Forks Verizon where Michael Davis worked, in which police said $40,000 of goods were taken.

In September, the pair were also charged in a robbery last year at JC Jewelry in Easton. Police alleged that on Dec. 23, 2016, they fled with $70,000 in watches, cash and other items after holding a clerk at gunpoint.

But until Tuesday, no one had been charged in Davis' death, which authorities called targeted. According to police, witnesses reported seeing two individuals crouched on the street near Davis' house just before he was killed after getting out of his car.

A day later, two masked men beat and carjacked Derose -- the store manager -- as he returned to his home on Sherwood Road, police said. Not only was Derose a second potential victim, but he was also the clerk who was held up during the original, Oct. 29, 2016, robbery, according to court records.

(Derose was also later accused of theft in the alleged pocketing of $8,000 in store deposits, charges that authorities say are unrelated to the robberies.)

According to Tuesday's affidavits, Derose told investigators that after returning from work, he was forced at gunpoint into the rear seat of his car by two men. One of them took his keys and the other tried to secure his hands using ties, police said.

"Knowing what had happened to Michael Davis, Derose feared that if he allowed his hands to be secured, he would later be killed so Derose decided to escape," police wrote.

Derose used one hand to grab at the gun and other to open the car door, police said. Though the men punched him and tried to hold him back, Derose was able to jump from the moving vehicle, police said.

Pamela Lehman contributed to this story.

[email protected]

610-554-8245

___

(c)2017 The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)

Visit The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.) at www.mcall.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

© Tribune Content Agency, source Regional News

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Financials ($)
Sales 2017 125 B
EBIT 2017 29 198 M
Net income 2017 14 956 M
Debt 2017 115 B
Yield 2017 4,51%
P/E ratio 2017 14,06
P/E ratio 2018 13,30
EV / Sales 2017 2,61x
EV / Sales 2018 2,52x
Capitalization 211 B
Chart VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS
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Verizon Communications Technical Analysis Chart | VZ | US92343V1044 | 4-Traders
Technical analysis trends VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS
Short TermMid-TermLong Term
TrendsBullishBullishBullish
Income Statement Evolution
Consensus
Sell
Buy
Mean consensus HOLD
Number of Analysts 31
Average target price 51,6 $
Spread / Average Target -0,48%
EPS Revisions
Managers
NameTitle
Lowell C. McAdam Chairman & Chief Executive Officer
John G. Stratton EVP & President-Global Operations
Matthew D. Ellis Chief Financial Officer & Executive Vice President
Roger Gurnani Chief Information & Technology Architect, EVP
Hans Erik Vestberg Executive Vice President-Network & Technology
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