Lawyer for Cobb woman wants some charges dropped in $4M jewelry heist

Abigail Lee Kemp (Credit: City of Atlanta Department of Corrections)

Abigail Lee Kemp (Credit: City of Atlanta Department of Corrections)

An attorney for a Cobb County woman accused in a string of armed jewelry store robberies spanning six states says some of the charges against the woman should be dismissed because they don’t qualify as crimes of violence.

Abigail Lee Kemp, 24, is accused of working with partners to steal an estimated $4.3 million in jewelry.

In each robbery, store employees were forced at gunpoint into a back room, where their hands were tied behind their backs.

Forcing clerks at gunpoint to be bound is not violent by definition, defense attorney Michelle Daffin wrote in a motion filed over the weekend. She cited a U.S. Supreme Court case known as the “Hobbs Act.”

Daffin said there would need to be evidence of the use, attempted use or threatened use of violent physical force, according to the Panama City News Herald. One of the robberies occurred in Panama City Beach.

“Placing someone in fear of future injury, at best, contemplates a threat of physical injury, not a threatened use of violent force,” Daffin wrote in the motion.

In January, a federal judge denied bond for Kemp. Federal Magistrate Judge Linda Walker said Kemp could be a flight risk.

Federal investigators said then that Kemp and 35-year-old Lewis Jones III were partners in a series of armed robberies that began in April 2015 at Jared Vault in Woodstock and continued until Jan. 4, when a Mebane, N.C., store was targeted.

Within days of distributing photos of two suspects in the string of crimes, investigators identified the pair, thanks to tips from the public and cellphone pings.

On Jan. 8, Kemp and Jones were together when agents arrived at a Smyrna apartment. Both were arrested and each charged with conspiracy to interfere with commerce by threats or violence.

Daffin requested a decision be made regarding Kemp's charges before May 31, according to the Panama City News Herald.

— The Associated Press and AJC staff writer Alexis Stevens contributed to this article.