Woman and 17-year-old arrested in Chinatown robbery that left woman with fractured spine, HPD says

Mycah Hatfield Image
Saturday, March 18, 2023
2 charged in brutal Chinatown robbery that injured woman, HPD says
The 17- and 19-year-old confessed to detectives that they were involved in the violent jugging in February, according to police. One of the suspects is accused of committing another robbery just 12 days later.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Two people who aren't old enough to legally buy alcohol confessed to detectives that they were involved in a violent robbery in Chinatown last month that left a woman with severe injuries, according to Houston police.

Joseph Harrell, 17, and Zy'Nika Woods, 19, are charged with aggravated robbery and were taken into custody.

Det. Tyrus Fontenot, who works in HPD's Robbery Division, said the victim, Nhung Truong, went to a bank in the 9800 block of Blackhawk Boulevard at about 11:30 a.m. on Feb. 13. She withdrew a large sum of cash for an upcoming trip.

Truong traveled 24 miles to Chinatown and was followed by Harrell and Woods, according to Fontenot.

"Our male suspect here exited the vehicle driven by Miss Woods here and assaulted the victim first by trying to take her purse and her wallet," Fontenot said. "Eventually, after learning he didn't have the money she withdrew from the bank, he went back and assaulted her again by picking her up and slamming her down onto the concrete."

Truong was left unconscious on the sidewalk as Harrell fled in the getaway car. She suffered cracked ribs and a fractured spine, according to charging documents.

The assault was caught on a nearby surveillance camera.

SEE ORIGINAL REPORT: Woman followed, robbed in Chinatown after making large cash withdrawal from miles away: HPD

Before the incident, HPD said the woman had gone to the bank to withdraw a large sum of money for an upcoming trip and drove more than 20 miles to where the robbery unfolded.

"When I saw it, it just made me mad as hell," Mayor Sylvester Turner said at a news conference announcing the arrests on Friday. "Slammed her down like she was a bag of potatoes."

Fontenot said surveillance video caught the license plate on Woods' car.

Woods confessed and implicated Harrell as the other person involved, according to the detective. He said Harrell was later taken into custody and also confessed.

Court records show that Harrell was charged with aggravated assault for an incident that happened 12 days after the violent robbery of Truong.

Harrell is accused of robbing a woman of her purse on Feb. 25. The woman tracked the Airpods in her purse to a home in the South Acres neighborhood and told detectives she drove by the home. She reported seeing the man, later identified as Harrell, who robbed her, standing in the driveway.

She told detectives that she and her husband parked their car a few blocks away and called police. While they waited for officers to arrive, charging documents say Harrell approached the victim's car and asked if they needed anything. The woman's husband said they did not, and Harrell continued past their vehicle. According to charging documents, he turned around and pointed a gun at the woman.

Fontenot said Harrell also has a criminal record in juvenile court. He is reportedly enrolled in high school and has lived in Houston his entire life, according to documents.

Harold's bond was set at $200,000 and Woods's bond was set at $50,000.

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