New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | July 20, 2018

Richmond man convicted for stealing iPhone from 7-Eleven in New Kent

By Andre Jones | July 9, 2018 6:17 pm

A Richmond man who confiscated a cell phone off the countertop of a convenience store was found guilty on a single count of grand larceny.

Alfredo Joa Guardado-Orellana, 40, of the 4600 block of Southwood Parkway, received the conviction as part of a Monday afternoon contested trial in New Kent Circuit Court.

On March 20, Sheila White worked as a clerk at the 7-Eleven convenience store in Eltham. While working on a project in the store, she propped her iPhone 7-Plus to listen to music. Shortly thereafter, the lunch rush entered into the store and White went to assist with customers. After the flurry of people left, the defendant noticed her phone for it.

“I called looking for it about 100 times,” White testified. “After a while, it started going straight to voicemail.”

As a manager of the store, White had access to the security footage and looked at it. Upon seeing the film, she noticed a man, later identified as Guardado, take her phone and put it in his pocket. After calling police and identifying the vehicle, White traveled to West Point and located the vehicle parked in the designated contractors’ parking lot of the West Point Mill.

White stayed near the vehicle before West Point officer Stewart Meredith responded as part of a request from New Kent Deputy Eric Quarles.

“I received information about the cell phone and stills taken from the video camera footage,” Meredith said. “Around 7 p.m., three guys came out and I asked for them who the driver of the vehicle was.”

Guardado came out shortly after the three guys, wearing an outfit that matched the one from still shots Meredith had seen on the images sent to him by Quarles.

“He was wearing a white tee-shirt with a unique designed,” the West Point officer continued. “It matched the outfit of the suspect at that time and I detained him for the time.”

But before Meredith detained the suspect, Guardado had spoken to his friends in Spanish. One of the men responded, heading to the defendant’s vehicle and retrieving a cell phone that matched the description of the one taken.

Quarles testified about his interactions with the defendant and the conversations that took place in the police vehicle.

“I saw the footage and it showed a Latino man in a dark hoodie, white shirt, and had facial hair,” the deputy said. “I talked with Mr. Guardado and he told me that he located the pone on the counter and took the phone because he was looking for the rightful owner.”

After taking the phone back into custody, Quarles returned it to the victim. The officer watched as White unlocked the phone with her fingerprint. After witnessing that and gathering more information, Quarles obtained a warrant for Guardado’s arrest.

Guardado testified on behalf, admitting to taking the phone but not intending to steal it.

“I thought it was broken and that someone had lost it or abandoned it,” he said through the use of a translator. “If the person was going to call me, I was going to take the phone back to the 7-Eleven.”

Defense attorney Jose’ Antonio Martelino asked the defendant if he heard any sounds emitting from the phone.

“I never heard it playing music. I never heard it ring,” Guardado testified. “I was going to take it back by the 7-Eleven after I got off work.

“When I saw the officer, he asked me to get the phone,” continued the defendant. “That’s when I told him to get it from me.”

However, assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Randy Del Rossi’s cross-examination centered around the phone not being turned into the clerk immediately once it was found at the store.

“Why didn’t you just turn it back in at lunch?” questioned Del Rossi. “Why didn’t you raise it in the air and say something?”

Del Rossi’s questioning continued, asking the defendant if he didn’t attempt to turn in the phone at that time.

“That is correct,” responded the defendant, confirming that he kept the phone.

Judge Thomas B. Hoover’s ruling came swift, pointing to the factors of common sense not being used in the situation and the defendant knowing what he did.

“The defendant did not have a ‘good faith’ intent when he tried to turn in the phone,” the judge said. “Even though the defendant doesn’t speak English well, the language barrier would have existed there at 6-7 p.m. just as it did at lunch time.

“If someone saw him take the phone and confronted him, he would have said something like he said today that he was only looking for the owner,” Hoover continued. “If it’s a good idea to leave the phone with the clerk after work, isn’t it a better idea to leave it on the counter after lunch?”

The judge rendered a guilty verdict against Guardado. Formal sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 15.

In other circuit court matters:

–Roy D. Pullen IV, of Mechanicsville, had one charge of felony identity theft dropped. The charge was dropped due to information provided from the defense to the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

–Victor George Whitesides, 24, of the 7000 block of Chestnut Drive, Quinton, entered a guilty plea to possession of ammunition by a convicted felon as part of a plea agreement. A charge of misdemeanor violating of pretrial services was dismissed.

In a summary of evidence, on June 25, 2017, a New Kent deputy responded to a domestic dispute between Whitesides and his mother. Whitesides’ mother said that she believed her son was taking drugs and had pushed her down on the couch. After an investigation, the defendant was arrested for the assault. During a search of Whitesides, flare cartridges were found in the defendant’s pocket. Flare cartridges are classified under state law as ammunition due to its ability to expel explosions and the defendant was not allowed to possess anything of similar nature due his status as convicted felon.

Under the plea deal, Whitesides received a five-year sentence with four years, five months suspended (seven months to serve.)

–Daryl Lynn Wyche, 49, of the 4800 block of Altar Road, Richmond, entered a not guilty plea to one count of driving as a habitual offender but stipulated the evidence would be enough to convict him of the offense.

In a summary of evidence, a Virginia State Trooper monitoring traffic on Interstate 64 westbound at mile marker 211 clocked a dark-colored Mercedes vehicle driving 91 miles per hour in a posted 70 miles per hour zone. A traffic stop was executed and the driver, identified as Wyche, confessed to the trooper that he did not have a license. A background check revealed that Wyche was a habitual offender stemming from multiple license suspensions that began in 1992 and he was arrested.

Sentencing is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 17 on the habitual offender offense. Wyche was convicted on reckless driving and having an improper inspection sticker in general district court.