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Mistrial elates suspect, but he still faces jail

Jason Ray Rayford, despite an earlier conviction, reportedly said he would do cartwheels.

Jason Ray Rayford, an accused serial bank robber, left Chester County Court yesterday in high spirits after obtaining a mistrial in a case involving three alleged heists.

Boasting about his big "win," Rayford, 34, of East Coventry Township, vowed after he left the courtroom that he would do cartwheels to celebrate his victory in court, where he had represented himself, several witnesses said.

The only trouble is he will be doing his celebratory cartwheels in the Montgomery County Correctional Facility.

There, he is awaiting a 5-to-10-year minimum-mandatory sentence for the October 2006 robbery of a King of Prussia credit union.

Or "he can take his celebration into the cafeteria at Graterford," Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Bradford A. Richman said, referring to the state prison where Rayford probably will be sent after sentencing.

He is also due next week in Montgomery County Court, where he faces two other pending bank-robbery cases. And he will return to Chester County Court in February for trial in the three alleged heists there.

Yesterday, Chester County Judge Anthony A. Sarcione reluctantly granted Rayford a mistrial because the accused claimed he had not had sufficient time to review documents received late from the prosecution.

Police said that from Oct. 27, 2006, to March 3, 2007, Rayford had robbed six financial institutions, three in Montgomery County and three in Chester County, netting a total of about $78,000.

Multiple witnesses saw Rayford exit the sites with bags and climb into the trunk of a silver 2000 Dodge Intrepid, which was driven by his fiancee, Carmen Wilkes, according to court records.

In the October trial for credit-union robbery, Richman said Wilkes, 34, a prosecution witness who also faces charges, told a convincing story about meeting Rayford online and hearing his claims of success as a music mogul.

When the two met in person, Rayford reinforced that persona by showering Wilkes' three children with gifts, Richman said.

It wasn't until after the couple had moved in together that Rayford enlisted Wilkes in criminal endeavors, Richman said.