Man who took rifle to KFC when restaurant wouldn’t pay him cleared of robbery charge

After hearing evidence, judge ordered a direct verdict of acquittal, ruling prosecutors had failed to establish a robbery had occurred.
Published: Apr. 29, 2021 at 8:07 AM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) -Before the jury could deliberate a robbery charge on Wednesday, a Dothan man who toted a rifle into Kentucky Fried Chicken demanding his paycheck was freed by the judge.

In 2018, police had charged Da’Nyiss Smith after alarmed KFC employees in Dothan called 911.

“The key element of any robbery charge is theft of property or the intent to commit theft of property,” said T.J. Haywood, Smith’s attorney.

After hearing evidence, Houston County Judge Todd Derrick ordered a direct verdict of acquittal, ruling prosecutors had failed to establish that Smith intended to rob KFC.

Haywood said his client had become increasingly frustrated because the restaurant failed to pay him, though he had worked there for several weeks. Haywood said a payroll snafu caused the issue.

After making several trips to the restaurant seeking his check, Smith visited a final time, armed with an AR-15.

Haywood said he never pointed the rifle and rejected a manager’s offer to pay him from the cash drawer because Smith realized that would have been robbery.

After Judge Derrick cleared him robbery, Smith pleaded guilty to one count of menacing, a misdemeanor, because he had unnecessarily put others in fear.

He will serve no jail time on that charge.

Generally, it is no illegal to carry firearms inside businesses.

As for Smith’s paycheck, nearly three years later he still has not received it, per Haywood.

(This story updated to remove reference to AR 15 as an assault rifle.)

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