GREENVILLE, South Carolina – Acting United States Attorney M. Rhett DeHart announced today that the United States Attorney’s Office secured two guilty verdicts in two separate cases, on the same day, in the same courtroom, and before the same judge. Specifically, separate federal juries convicted Zavien Lenoy Canada, 38, and Kendrick Omar Cobb, 31, both of Greenville, each for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
On Monday morning, the jury trial for Canada began and continued into Tuesday morning. When the Canada jury started deliberations Tuesday, the jury trial for Cobb began. When the Canada jury reached its guilty verdict on Tuesday afternoon, the court paused the Cobb trial to enter the Canada verdict. The court then resumed the Cobb trial, and the jury found Cobb guilty later Tuesday evening.
According to court documents and evidence presented at Canada’s trial, on January 31, 2020, Canada was the passenger in a vehicle pulled over for a suspended license plate. Canada was wanted by the United States Marshals for absconding federal supervised release. Shortly upon exiting the vehicle, Canada fled on foot before being apprehended by officers of the City of Greenville Police Department. During the search of the vehicle, police found a .45 caliber pistol and a magazine loaded with .45 caliber ammunition. Canada was arrested at the scene and taken into custody. Correction officers at the Greenville County Detention Center recovered 3.55 grams of crack cocaine in Canada’s pants.
According to court documents and evidence presented at Cobb’s trial, on the afternoon of March 25, 2018, deputies with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office conducted a search warrant at Cobb’s residence and recovered a loaded 9mm pistol under the mattress of a bed. Cobb later admitted that the gun was his.
Due to their criminal histories, both Canada and Cobb are prohibited from possessing a gun or ammunition.
Senior United States District Judge Henry M. Herlong, Jr. presided over both trials and will sentence Canada and Cobb after receiving and reviewing pre-sentence reports prepared by the United States Probation Office. Canada likely faces at least fifteen years in federal prison, and Cobb faces up to ten years in federal prison. During the trial, the court took numerous safety measures in light of the pandemic. Large, plexiglass shields separated the jurors, the movement of attorneys about the courtroom was limited, and attorneys and witnesses wore masks unless they were speaking.
“Having two trial teams argue two separate cases in the same courtroom and getting verdicts on the same day is likely a first in this district,” said Acting U.S. Attorney DeHart. “I commend the work of those trial teams and thank the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and our law enforcement partners for their work in bringing these armed criminals to justice, especially during a pandemic. I also want to acknowledge the efforts of the presiding judge, who went to great lengths to ensure the safety of the jurors, lawyers, witnesses, and others involved in the case. These verdicts show that this office will do whatever it takes to keep the people of South Carolina safe.”
“This is a double win for our law enforcement partners and for public safety,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Vince Pallozzi. “These were very productive, collaborative investigations and each of these convictions takes a very dangerous offender off our streets.”
The ATF is investigating both cases with the assistance of the City of Greenville Police Department in Canada’s case and the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office in Cobb’s case.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Justin Holloway and Ben Garner are prosecuting the Canada case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Max Cauthen is prosecuting the Cobb case.
The cases are being prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.