2 guilty in string of break-ins
By Blake Belden, Staff Writer
Jan 24, 2014, 10:57
PRINCE GEORGE — Two men involved in more than 30 burglaries in both Dinwiddie and Prince George County were convicted of a combined 20 felonies in Prince George Circuit Court on Thursday afternoon.
Matthew Maggard, 28, of Chesterfield, and Bedford Randolph Jr., 22, of Prince George, took part in a string of burglaries, along with co-defendant Thomas Crowder, 28, that occurred between November 2011 and September 2012.
The jury found defendants Maggard and Randolph each guilty of five felony counts of grand larceny, four felony counts of breaking and entering, one count of credit card theft and one count of petit larceny. Following their convictions, the jury recommended that each defendant be sentenced to 12 years and six months imprisonment.
Detective Kenneth Droddy, with the Dinwiddie County Sheriff’s Office, said he was assigned to investigate a number of similar burglaries that began in November 2012 in which only garages, outbuildings and vehicles were broken into, but no houses, according to his testimony.
Droddy said he eventually received a tip from someone who noticed a large stock of guns available to buy at Crowder’s house in Colonial Heights. Among the firearms was a custom-made gun that matched the description of another firearm that had been reported missing in Dinwiddie.
After receiving the tip, the Dinwiddie Sheriff’s office got a search warrant to investigate the residence, Droddy testified.
When authorities searched Crowder’s residence, they seized more than 150 stolen items including 33 firearms, five crossbows, eight fishing rods and tackles, eight cameras, two chain saws, a generator, bolt cutters, six laptops, 38 DVDs, a leaf blower, assorted alcohol among various other items, according to court documents.
Of these seized items, many of them were connected back to 28 reported burglaries in Dinwiddie, but because there were many items still unaccounted for, calls were made to surrounding jurisdictions to see if they related to any reported burglaries elsewhere, Droddy testified.
Crowder, who already pleaded guilty to two charges in Dinwiddie and 11 charges in Prince George (all of which were identical charges for both Maggard and Randolph), implicated both co-defendants after he was arrested by Dinwiddie authorities.
Crowder is currently serving an active 18 months of imprisonment as part of his plea agreement with Prince George prosecutors, according to court records.
Shortly after Crowder’s wife left him with his kids in 2011, Randolph and Maggard would come over and hang out at Crowder’s house every other weekend, according to Crowder’s testimony.
After Crowder then lost his job and got behind on his mortgage payments, Randolph came up with the idea of stealing scrap copper to catch up on bills, Crowder testified.
What began as a plan to steal scrap metal from random sheds escalated into a spree of residential burglaries when it was discovered to be more lucrative, where many times they stole thousands of dollars in cash, Crowder testified.
Crowder then testified that it became “interesting to see what we could get.”
Randolph had a paper route through Dinwiddie along Route 460, so they would find side streets with Google Maps that ran off of Route 460, and park Crowder’s truck off road before canvassing properties down the street for valuables, Crowder testified.
According to the given route, 15 reported burglaries occurred either on the route or within a mile of the route, Droddy said.
Eventually, they ran out of places to burglarize in Dinwiddie, at which point they moved to Prince George, Crowder said.
Maggard and Randolph were present for all of the burglaries associated with the charges in Prince George County, Crowder testified.
The three co-defendants would always ride in Crowder’s truck on the nights of the burglaries, where they would often store the stolen goods in trash cans and keep them in the bed of the pickup truck, Crowder said.
Droddy said that Crowder rode around with authorities from both Dinwiddie and Prince George following his arrest, pointing out the locations of burglaries and the items that were taken from each property.
“I was pretty surprised” by the accuracy of Crowder’s memory in reference to what was taken from each location, Droddy testified.
Droddy testified that upon interviewing Randolph, he would constantly alter the details of his story and that “he was not capable of repeating the same lies.”
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Livingston said that all of the details were consistent with “one continuing scheme” that linked Crowder, Maggard and Randolph together beyond a reasonable doubt.
The defense tried to discredit Crowder’s testimony arguing that there were many inconsistencies in his statements and that the plea deal he agreed to motivated him to implicate others to earn a decreased sentence for himself.
The defense also argued that the defendants both pleaded guilty to only one burglary in Dinwiddie, therefore that does not make them guilty for crimes in Prince George and that there is reasonable doubt that both Maggard and Randolph were present during these burglaries.
Livingston argued that Crowder already had 11 convictions in Prince George and that he had nothing to gain by falsely implicating Maggard or Randolph in the Prince George burglaries.
According to court records, Maggard and Randolph were both sentenced in Dinwiddie Circuit Court to 40 years imprisonment, with 39 years, 10 months suspended, for one charge of statutory burglary and one charge of grand larceny. In addition, they were ordered to pay $18,790 in restitution to 28 victims.
Leigh Romero, a pretrial officer for the Riverside Criminal Justice Agency, testified that Maggard tested positive for marijuana two times while under pre-trial supervision and that he failed on multiple occasions to comply with his curfew requirements.
Several Prince George victims expressed serious emotional distress and diminished senses of personal security caused by the burglaries, according to testimonies.
One victim, 62, testified that his wife now locks the doors to their house at all times, and that he and his wife now each keep a loaded gun in bedside chests, a measure they have never taken before.
Another victim testified that he spent $1,000 to get security installed on his property and will not walk along the wooded trail behind his house without carrying a gun following the burglary.
Prince George Commonwealth’s Attorney Jay Paul commended the efforts of the jury during the two-day trial.
“People’s houses in Prince George County are sacred. The commonwealth’s attorney’s office will do whatever we need to do within the bounds of the law to [allow residents to] feel safe and secure in their homes,” Paul said.
Both Maggard and Randolph will be formally sentenced on May 1.