Sheriff wants action from cell phone makers after man beaten

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- A "fed-up" sheriff echoed the call for cell phone makers to do something about cell phone theft -- after a man was allegedly beaten on a Metrolink train for his cell phone around 11:00 A.M. in East St. Louis Friday.

It was at least the third cell phone case for St. Clair County Sheriff’s Deputies in the past couple of months, said Sheriff Rick Watson.

This time, three suspects attacked a man on the train -- not for his money -- but the Galaxy Note 3 smart phone he was holding.

“It was all over the cell phone…they grabbed his cell phone out of his hand.  He immediately tries to grab the person in an attempt to get his cell phone back.  3 of them jump on him, they’re hitting him, kicking him in the head,” Watson said.

When the train stopped at the JJK station in East St. Louis, the three suspects took off, Watson said.

He credited sheriff’s patrol and Metrolink division deputies along with the auto theft task force for the quick arrests.

Toddeshia Weems, 18, Shontice Hayes, 19, of St. Louis, and Joseph Spencer, 19, of East St. Louis, face felony charges robbery and mob action.

“It’s not like you want their money anymore.  You want their cell phone,” Watson said.

“Maybe they need to start making for something in these cell phones, like a protection device or something to let people know you can’t just take people’s cell phones and get away with it,” said Metrolink passenger, Joel Anderson, on his way to catch his train at the JJK station Tuesday night.

The crime calls to mind the Megan Boken case.  Boken was shot and killed for her I-phone during a call to her mother on her way to a St. Louis U alumni volleyball game in August 2012.

Gunman Keith Esters, then 18, got life in prison plus 20 years just last week after pleading guilty to Boken’s murder.

Boken’s family is now part of a nationwide coalition demanding cell phone makers add “kill switch” technology to all phones so they can be immediately and permanently shut down if stolen, making people on the train or anywhere else less likely to be targets.

“This problem must be solved.  Doing nothing is not an option,” Megan’s father, Paul Boken, said after Esters’ plea.

“I think it’s a great idea…I just think if it’s turned off and you can’t trade it, you can’t use it, it’s got to help.  We’ve got to do something.  It’s just ridiculous that people are getting jumped over their cell phones,” Watson said.

Vigorous prosecution is also a part of the solution.

Along with the felony charges, St. Clair County State's Attorney, Brendan Kelly, was granted sizable bails for all three suspects: $75,000 each for Weems and Hayes, $100,000 for spencer.

All 3 remained jailed Tuesday night.

Related Stories:

Gunman pleads guilty in Boken murder case; gets life plus 20 years

Megan Boken’s family wants cell phone “kill switches”

Central West End At Ease After Boken Murder Arrest

Two Teens Arrested In Death Of Megan Boken




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