Defendant takes stand in robbery trial, says he wasn’t dressed as Mormon

They weren’t wearing Mormon missionary costumes. They weren’t even at Terence Delucia’s home the day he said he was robbed.

Sure, the style — white-collared shirt, black tie, black pants, black dress shoes — matched the evangelist apparel. But that’s the same outfit Robert Estall wore to work at Louis Vuitton, he told a Clark County jury Friday.

He and his friend, Abraham Austin, are on trial for robbery, kidnapping, burglary, battery and conspiracy.

Estall acknowledged Delucia’s surveillance camera caught them walking through the front gate but said that was three days before Delucia’s wife called 911.

Estall and Austin were following orders, Estall testified. The drug dealer didn’t want neighbors to become suspicious, so he told them not to wear street clothes and arrive early in order not to disturb his wife or daughter.

The black backpacks were meant to carry the pot.

Though they had not met Delucia and never had spoken with him, they drove to his neighborhood, near Flamingo and Buffalo roads, and parked around the corner from his house.

It was 6 a.m. on June 24, 2013, a Monday. Not the same time three days later, when Ida Delucia called police after hearing her husband scream, “It’s happening again.” The Delucias had been robbed a year earlier.

Austin and Estall were told they could buy an ounce of pot for $175, but when Delucia asked for $250, he became upset and started to approach Estall.

“I didn’t know whether he was going to try and choke me or throw a punch,” Estall testified. “It happened fast.”

Delucia’s wife, Ida, testified Tuesday that she and her daughter hid inside closets while the robbers asked “Where’s the safe?” and “Where’s the money?”

Terence Delucia testified that he was pistol-whipped, forced to face the ground and count to 100 before the men fled. Estall said he reacted to defend himself.

Delucia “started getting hostile,” Estall testified. “I exchanged words with him. At that point in time, he came toward me in a threatening manner, at which point in time in self-defense, and out of a natural reaction, I stepped to the left and kind of stepped back, and I hit him.”

A left hook to the right eye. Then they calmly walked out of the house, got back into Estall’s car and drove away, he said.

That’s it, he said. They didn’t rip the security camera plug off the wall, take a laptop, an iPod, iPad, bag of pot or grab the stash of $3,000 in cash from a cookie jar, as Delucia and his wife testified.

Estall said he didn’t buy the gun police found in his apartment until the day after Delucia said he was robbed. Estall said he paid $400 for the semi-automatic .45-caliber Sig Sauer handgun June 28, 2013.

The case drew wide media attention, with the men captured on video apparently using religion as a ruse for robbery.

Two months after Ida Delucia called 911, after the former airmen were recognized, Austin was arrested at their apartment. Estall surrendered to police a few days later.

“They called 911 and set up this elaborate plan in order to get you arrested?” Schwartzer asked Estall.

“I believe so,” he replied. “Yes.”

The trial is scheduled to resume Monday, when defense lawyers are expected to call a neighbor who documented a day of heavy traffic at the Delucia home just months before the robbery.

Defense attorney Carl Arnold called Delucia “a bona fide drug dealer.” Prosecutors argued he had no prior drug arrests.

Contact reporter David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Find him on Twitter: @randompoker.

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