Nice Girls With Guns

Kingwood High friends say the girls were "Sweet." Adults say "Well-Mannered." Cops say "armed robbers."

On August 2 Lisa was arrested on a misdemeanor charge for assaulting her sister. A friend says Lisa suspected she wasn't getting her phone messages, and she made up her mind to test Jessica by having someone call while Lisa was out.

When Lisa asked Jessica if she'd gotten any calls, Jessica said no. She asked again, and Jessica, "with a sort of a smirk," as Lisa told it to her friend, said no again. That's when Lisa, according to statements Lisa's mom and sister gave the police, slapped Jessica hard enough to make her right cheek swell. The two were on the ground wrestling when Lisa, according to the offense report, ripped off Jessica's shirt and bra, leaving claw marks on her back. Lisa cut the phone cord and retreated to her room.

The fight started again when Lisa saw that Jessica had changed into one of Lisa's shirts. When Jessica refused to take it off, Lisa came after her again, but Jessica reportedly defended herself with the remote control. Lisa, the report says, ran into her room, got her lacrosse stick and chased Jessica out of the house. Jessica and her mom drove to the police station to get an officer, and Lisa was taken to jail.

Katie Dunn (in the Kingwood High yearbook and her HPD mug shot) helped make homecoming mums in her "floral design" class.
Katie Dunn (in the Kingwood High yearbook and her HPD mug shot) helped make homecoming mums in her "floral design" class.

Estranged from her parents, Lisa called her friend Brandon Mahand, whose father, Kenneth, is an attorney. (Not wanting to disturb anyone too late at night, Lisa apparently waited until the morning to phone.) With the elder Mahand's help, a group of friends bailed Lisa out and took her to the house of a fellow volleyball teammate.

At the same time, Krystal's friends were getting calls from her stepdad. Krystal had disappeared, without her car, and no one knew where she was. Krystal's father, according to police testimony, confiscated the Firebird and was planning to sell it.

It was about that time that the police received another tip. The girls, the informant told them, were planning to rob again.

The police decided it was time to take action. On August 5, a month to the day after her last alleged offense, Katie was arrested outside Eckerd Drugs. Her sister, who was with her at the time, asked Katie what in the world was going on. "I can't tell you," Katie said, according to one account. "I can't tell you."

With the cops she was more forthcoming. Her confession gave the police all they needed to arrest her three accomplices.

The next day HPD picked up Michelle and Lisa. Lauren Smith, the friend who was with Michelle when she was arrested, reportedly told people that the cops found a bag of cocaine on Michelle. (Asked about this, Stephens replies, "No comment. Don't make this hard on me.")

At the house where Lisa was staying, her friend's younger sister came upstairs and said, "The cops are here, and they want Lisa." Before she was taken away, Lisa told her friend's mom that she was innocent.

As for Krystal, the police arrested her and took her, at her request, to her dad's house, where they put her in the library while they told Kenneth Maddox what was going on. They even, according to Officer Smith's testimony at a hearing, showed him a videotape of one of the robberies. "That's not my daughter," Smith recalled Maddox saying. Smith demonstrated the hand Maddox pressed to his temple. "What has she gotten herself into?"

When Kenneth confronted Krystal, Smith testified, she was bawling. "Daddy," Krystal said, according to Smith, "I was just the getaway driver."

During the hearing, which ended with District Judge Kent Ellis certifying Krystal to stand trial as an adult on three counts of armed robbery, Krystal sat at a table in her blue juvenile detention uniform, her face scrubbed clean of makeup and her mousy hair pulled back from her hangdog brown eyes.

When victims testified, she furrowed her brow. The only time she smiled was in conference with her high-dollar attorney, Robert Scardino. Most of the time she clutched the hands of her mother, sometimes even stroking them comfortingly. When the judge announced his decision, which effectively meant that she would face prison time, she broke into tears without sobbing, hugged and kissed her parents and left the room. The guard escorting her called her "girly girl."

The only good thing about Krystal's sudden adulthood was that her bail would finally be set. Like Michelle, she could go home. Katie and Lisa remain in jail, apparently for financial reasons. When national reporters (who, in the wake of the Littleton, Colorado, high school massacre, are acting as if they've discovered the new face of American crime) have requested interviews, Lisa's father has asked if they can pay, saying he'd like to start a tuition fund for his daughters.

There are those who think the girls have learned their lesson. "I honestly and truly believe," says one friend, "that if they got out now they would never again be a problem with the law. These girls were not the kind of girls who were involved in stuff like this."

That begs the question: Should consideration be given to the kind of girls they are? or to the fact that where they're from, it's hard to learn what consequences are in the real world? Says Pudifin, without particular malice, "I just hope they get the same as if they were four black males the same age." That would be one way to burst a bubble.

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