A second suspect in the Clayton County teen kidnapping that captured national attention last month plead not guilty on Friday.
Tony Maurice Graves had shackles on his ankles and an orange jumpsuit and wore his dreadlocks braided into two pony tails as U.S. Magistrate Judge Gerrilyn G. Brill denied him bond.
“That’s based on pretrial history and the nature of the current charges,” Brill said, referring to Graves’ 27 arrests, including 12 convictions since 2003.
Previous charges include drug and gun possession, aggravated assault, child abandonment and making terroristic threats, according to jail records.
Graves, 28, is one of two men in federal custody on allegations they kidnapped 14-year-old Ayvani Hope Perez during a home invasion in the pre-dawn hours of Sept. 17.
Two men pried open the back door to the home where Ayvani lived with her mother, older brother and her mother’s boyfriend, and demanded cash and jewelry at gunpoint.
When the mother didn’t give the gunmen what they wanted, one of them fatally shot the family dog, authorities said.
Wildrego Jackson, the first suspect arrested in connection with the abduction, told FBI agents one of the armed men who entered the home, and was depicted by a sketch artist as having dreadlocks, was Graves, according to court records.
Investigators found evidence that Jackson communicated with Graves leading up to the incident.
The second gunman remains at large, and federal investigators believe as many as six people, including two women were involved in the abduction.
Ayvani’s kidnapping drew widespread attention, with people posting about the case regularly on social media sites. The GBI issued a Levi’s Call alert and media crews, including “Good Morning America” and “Today” show, descended on the neighborhood.
Both men were indicted on Wednesday by a federal grand jury, FBI officials said. And in the federal indictment, obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, prosecutors say Graves and Jackson planned the caper.
“The primary purpose for the conspiracy was to abduct the victim … and extort ransom money from her family,” the indictment reads. “Tony Graves and Wildrego Jackson, and others known and unknown to the grand jury used cellular telephones to repeatedly call family members … demanding ransom money and drugs in exchange for the release of (Ayvani).”
Both men are charged with conspiracy to kidnap, kidnapping and using a firearm during the kidnapping, according to the indictment.
Jackson, 29, was arrested Sept. 18 within hours of when Ayvani was turned over by kidnappers to relatives in Conyers, authorities said.
Graves, whom FBI agents said Jackson implicated, was arrested on Oct. 11.
“Breaking into a home, firing a gun and killing a dog and taking a child … that all demonstrates that he is extremely dangerous to the community,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Gray told Judge Brill regarding Graves.
But Graves’ attorney Page Pate noted that no photo line-up was done with his client to give victims an opportunity to identify a suspect, and called Jackson’s implication of Graves self-serving.
“I think because of his record, police were quick to snap him up,” Pate said of his client. “If you give law enforcement a name of somebody and you’re trying to help yourself, normally somebody like (Graves) is going to be an easy target.”
Both men remain in federal custody and the investigation continues, authorities said.