Public Safety

Jury convicts Cedar Rapids man who carjacked woman at gunpoint, robbed cellphone store

Faces at least 32 years in prison

CEDAR RAPIDS — After about one hour of deliberating Tuesday, a jury found a Cedar Rapids man guilty of carjacking a woman at gunpoint and robbing a cellphone store following a two-day federal trial.

Cedric A. Wright, 22, was convicted of four counts — carjacking; carrying and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to the carjacking; unlawful possession of a firearm as a felon and unlawful drug user; and carrying a firearm during and in relation to the robbery.

Evidence at trial showed that on Oct. 22, 2017, Wright carjacked an 18-year-old Kirkwood Community College student who was returning to her apartment near the school. As the woman parked her car, Wright approached and pointed a handgun at her head while demanding she give Wright her keys and cellphone.

The student gave a description of Wright to the police, including that he was wearing a black face mask and camouflage clothing, according to testimony.

The next day, according to trial evidence, Wright and two other men, Gage Rupp and Derrick Ford, rode in Ford’s minivan to an apartment complex on the west side of Cedar Rapids, where Wright told the group to get into what he said was his sister’s car, which police later determined was the car stolen from the student the day before.

After getting in the car, the group drove to a Sprint cellphone store and watched as customers left and a store clerk began to prepare the store for closing, according to testimony. Wright and Rupp put on gloves and clothing to partially obscure their faces and entered the store, demanding the clerk let them into the inventory room.

The clerk, who complied with the men, testified that the men were aggressive and he feared for his life.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Wright and Rupp took more than $1,000 in cash and about $40,000 in cellphones and other electronic devices, according to testimony. One of the stolen devices was a tracker that alerted police.

Upon returning to the apartment complex where Ford’s minivan was parked, Wright told the men they needed to get back in Ford’s van because the car they were in was stolen, according to testimony.

Police responded to the tracking device within a few minutes of the robbery and pulled over the minivan. The officers recovered the stolen cash, phones and electronic devices, according to testimony. A loaded .40 caliber handgun was also found in the van.

Wright had a prior aggravated robbery conviction in Illinois in 2016 for committing a robbery while threatening the use of a firearm in the course of the robbery, according to prosecutors.

Wright faces a mandatory minimum of 32 years in federal prison and possibly up to life.

Rupp previously pleaded guilty to his involvement in the robbery, conspiring to commit the robbery, and carrying a firearm during and in relation to the robbery. Ford previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit the robbery. Both men are awaiting sentencing.

• Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

CONTINUE READING

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.