CUSTER COUNTY— It has taken over three years to reach a conclusion in the theft case against 39-year-old Cynthia Lowry of Sargent. According to court records, Lowry was arraigned on one charge of theft by unlawful taking (Class IIA felony) in 2017. Lowry was accused of taking over $5,000 worth of property from Trotter’s Woah and Go while she was a manager at the Sargent location back in 2016.
The case, which has seen continuances and a number of delays, wrapped up on Thursday, October 29 with the “Not Guilty” verdict being read to the court following a four-day trial. Initially scheduled for two days, the trial continued into Thursday after weather delayed the start of jury selection on Monday, October 26.
Following jury selection, both parties made their opening statements with Custer County Attorney Steve Bowers leading off the statements. During his opening statement, Bowers said that the evidence would be a roadmap for the jury to follow from Lowry failing to deposit daily deposits on time that were missing cash to creating an unapproved house account. Bowers stated the evidence would show the why, when, and how and asked the jury to find Lowry guilty on the lone charge.
Lowry’s attorney James Wagner focused his opening statement on the number of people that had access to the safe that held the money as well as the lack of video evidence showing Lowry taking money. Wagner said that there is context to everything, but the jury needs to know all parts. He also asked the jury for three things: “1. Hear us out, 2. Put yourself in her shoes, and 3. No one saw he take the money.” Wagner concluded by saying that the videos would show Lowry did NOT take the money and she should be found not guilty.
Throughout the trial, testimony was heard on how the daily operations of the Sargent store worked from the Point of Sale system to generating reports and deposit slips. Terina Trotter-Wortman, Chief Financial Officer for Trotter’s Inc., took the stand first and stated that she first noticed money was missing when she went to pay a fuel bill and there were not enough funds in the account for the Sargent location. Eventually, she asked Kelly Bell, who was also a witness who testified, to audit the financials for the Sargent store to find out why there was money missing. Eventually, Terina began to suspect Lowry was taking the cash out of the deposit bags and was only depositing the checks.
On July 27, 2016, Terina met with Lowry to discuss the missing money where Terina said that Lowry signed a confession letter stating she took the money. Handwriting experts from both sides testified on the authenticity of the letter for a number of hours. Following the alleged signing of the letter, Trotter’s Inc. staff viewed security tape footage where Lowry could be seen leaving the Sargent store with money bags to presumably deposit them at the bank.
Deposit slips showed that the money was being counted at the store, but not being deposited at the bank. Bowers argued that the money was being pocketed at some point to the bank, while Wagner stated that his client was not the only one who had access to the safe and was also never seen on camera taking money.
Lowry, who took the stand on day two, stated that multiple people had access to the safe to be able to retrieve money for the cash drawers. She also told the jury that she had asked for extra cameras to be added to the store for more security following a handful of break-ins. During her testimony, Wagner asked Lowry directly if she stole any money from Trotter’s to which she replied, “No.” During cross-examination, Lowry stated that she did not write the alleged confession letter and that while the signature on the alleged confession was similar to her signature on checks, it was not her signature.
During closing arguments, Bowers stated that Lowry was the only one who made deposits from the Sargent Trotter’s and it was also clear that the signatures were too similar to have been made by anyone other than Lowry. He asked that the jury look at the evidence and find her guilty.
Wagner argued that there were no cameras showing Lowry taking money and there were multiple people who had access to the safe and building. He also said that Lowry took a huge risk taking the stand, but said under oath that she did not take the money.
At approximately 12:30 PM on Wednesday, October 28, the jury entered deliberation to determine their verdict. On Thursday, October 29 at 2:19 PM the jury returned a not guilty verdict and the charges were dismissed.