New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | November 18, 2018

Keen observation by New Kent deputy leads to grand larceny guilty verdict

By Andre Jones | October 23, 2018 1:55 am

A keen observation by a New Kent deputy during a routine patrol proved instrumental in finding a Hampton man guilty of grand larceny.

Marvin Jamaal Banks, 42, of the 100 block of San Barbara Drive, was found guilty on the one charge during a Monday afternoon trial in New Kent Circuit Court. One charge of burglary and misdemeanor pretrial violation are being reserved by Judge B. Elliott Bondurant pending an additional argument of interpretation by Commonwealth’s Attorney Linwood Gregory and defense attorney Scott Renick.

On Jan. 3, Deputy Ethan Townsend was working the midnight shift when he noticed a red truck with a full load pulling out of the Crestwicke subdivision that was in development. The officer noticed the vehicle turning to travel in his direction and he pulled off into the parking lot of George Watkins Elementary School. As the truck passed the deputy’s location, the officer began following the vehicle when an instruction manual flew off the truck and into his direction. As the vehicle approached Interstate 64, Townsend conducted a traffic stop and identified Banks as the driver. When Banks stepped outside of the truck, the deputy noticed a screwdriver and flashlight in his pocket. When questioned about the items on the vehicle, the defendant said he wanted to surprise his wife with new appliances and had gotten lost on his way home. Townsend gave the defendant a warning for not having a secured load and let him go along his way.

The deputy elected to return to the subdivision, stopping to pick up the manual that had fallen from the vehicle. Once the deputy arrived at the development, he noticed a door was ajar and brackets that were screwed tight were broken. Upon an inspection around the development, the deputy noticed fresh tire prints, footprints, and dolly prints. The deputy called Bart Ricks, owner of B.M. Ricks construction and asked if there was supposed to be any items in the house. When Ricks responded to the officer that appliances were purchased for that building, Townsend contacted Sgt. Farrar Howard III to notify of him of a possible burglary.

Testimony from contractors working on the home said that a microwave, refrigerator, oven range, and dishwasher, all made of stainless steel, were on property prior to Jan. 3.

“The doors were secure before Jan. 3,” testified Greg Brown, an employee for B.M. Ricks contracting. “I had put temporary locks in the house and used metal clips and two screws on another door.”

“I used a hidden key to get into the building,” said Kenneth Stanley, an electrician who wired the proposed development. “The appliances were still in boxes at that time.”

Townsend obtained a warrant for Banks arrest while Howard obtained a warrant to search the defendant’s home. During an interview with Townsend at the Hampton jail, the deputy commented on some of the statements made by Banks.

“He said he wanted to be straight up with me and he knew ‘he was done’ when I stopped him,” the deputy said. “He told me was hired to do the job but didn’t force himself into the home.”

The deputy continued by adding the defendant saying he was paid $1,500 for the job. When questioned if he had an accomplice by the officer, the defendant said he had help but didn’t know the guy’s name.

While the interview was being conducted at the jail, Howard was at the defendant’s home with a search warrant. With the assistance of the Hampton police department, the four appliances were found inside of Banks’ garage. Inside his home by the door were a pair of Timbaland boots that matched similar molds made at the scene of the crime, and an appliance dolly was discovered in the bed of the truck the defendant was driving earlier. Using information and receipts provided by Ricks, serial numbers on them were matched with the items recovered in Banks’ garage.

Renick’s cross-examination of Deputy Townsend detailed a second version of a story of the events that day. That story was retold in the defendant’s own words as Banks chose to take the stand.

“I was transporting HVAC units from Northern Virginia when one of my tires went flat,” Banks said. “I got off and stopped at the visitor’s center to put air in it. That’s when a white Ford pickup approached, and a guy got out and asked me if I needed help.

The man, only identified as “Bill” was said to be a white, older heavyset man according to the defendant. When Bill discovered the units on the back of Banks’ truck, he inquired about the defendant’s occupation as a HVAC worker. According to Banks testimony, the defendant told Bill that he also buys appliances, leading to Bill taking Banks to the aforementioned subdivision.

“He told me that a storm was coming, and he was trying to sell these items,” the defendant said. “We reached an agreement and made an arrangement.”

That arrangement saw Banks heading home to drop off the HVAC units and returning to New Kent to pick up the appliances. When Banks returned around 10 p.m., a disagreement allegedly ensued with Bill when the agreed amount of $700 for the items fell short by $180. The defendant said that Bill took the money but refused to assist with loading the truck.

“He just got in his truck and said he had to go,” Banks said.

Gregory’s cross-examination questioned the defendant’s true knowledge and intentions of what was going on.

“You knew that you were buying brand new items for a low price correct?” questioned the Commonwealth’s Attorney. “You knew that the price was low.”

“I did,” responded the defendant.

“Then you should know that they were probably stolen as well,” Gregory responded.

The defendant stated that surplus items were often sold in the construction business, but Gregory rebutted with another question.

“Did you see anybody working that day when you went with Bill earlier?” asked Gregory.

“Nobody was there when I went into the house,” responded the defendant.

Gregory finalized his comments, asking why the defendant lied to the officer during the first encounter about the items.

“I was looking out for myself,” the defendant said. “You seen all about this violence going on and I didn’t know why I was pulled over in the first place.”

In the end, the judge commented that the grand larceny had definitely taken place.

“He has told three different stories,” Bondurant said. “One thing that I don’t get is that you tell me that you want to do business with this guy, but you don’t have any information with you?

“You didn’t write down his number nor did you put his phone number in your phone,” the judge added. “I frankly don’t believe his story and I think there is overwhelming evidence that he committed the larceny.”

Formal sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 17, with final arguments on the burglary charge and misdemeanor violation of pretrial services to be heard that day as well.