Free Lance-Star reporter Robyn Sidersky covers Caroline County government and schools. You can reach her at 540/374-5413 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow coverage on Facebook or Twitter as well.
Mistrial declared in double burglary case
Tonight, a Caroline County jury was unable to decide whether a man burglarized his former neighbor’s home twice last year.
A new trial was scheduled in Caroline Circuit Court after a hung jury on a burglary case couldn’t come to an agreement on four out of five charges.
A mistrial was declared in the case of Winston Sylvester Oliver II, 30, of Richmond, who is charged with two counts of grand larceny and two counts of burglary at night.
A jury of four men and eight women took more than two hours to deliberate before telling Judge H. Harrison Braxton Jr. that they could not come to a unanimous decision on the charges. But they did agree that he was not guilty of a fifth charge of possession of burglary tools.
The charges stem from two separate incidents where a home on Dry Bridge Road was burglarized on May 9 and July 19 of 2009. Among the items stolen were a laptop computer, a flat-screen TV, a safe and a duffell bag with about $800 that was being saved for a newborn baby.
A couple who had lived across the street from Oliver testified that the burglaries happened a few months after Oliver and the male of the house had an argument about selling cars.
Oliver’s estranged wife, who now lives in Spotsylvania County, testified that he bought home stolen items and both times she recognized them as belonging to their former neighbors. But she said she did not report it to police at that time.
Defense Attorney Susan Hafey asked the jury to consider why the wife didn’t report the crimes to police until after Oliver filed for custody of their child nearly a year after the burglaries occurred.
An audio recording from jail between Oliver and his wife was played in court with Oliver saying, “I don’t care what they say. I did it for my family. You know my heart.”
Oliver testified that the conversation was about him moving out of the home, not the burglaries.
Commonwealth Attorney Tony Spencer pointed out to the jury that although Oliver took the stand in his own defense, he never said he was innocent.
A new trial was scheduled for Dec. 13 and 14.
This is just one of a few court appearances Oliver has made recently.
Oliver was arrested in May following an incident in which a Good Samaritan was shot while thwarting a robbery at Mr. Fuel in Carmel Church.
The 61-year-old victim in that case was shot four times but survived. The story received nationwide publicity.
Oliver was not the gunman in that case, police said, but was identified as the getaway driver.
Oliver was also a defendant in a case about a robbery at the Econo Lodge in Ruther Glen that occured in November 2007.
The charges against him in both Caroline cases were dropped recently, but could be reinstated at a future date.
Fredericksburg police spokeswoman Natatia Bledsoe said the Caroline investigations led to other charges in the city.
Oliver faces 10 charges in Fredericksburg, which include attempted capital murder, robbery and malicious wounding.
Those charges stem from a Nov. 7, 2008, incident at the Quality Inn at 2310 Plank Road during which two men robbed a clerk and a motel guest.
The guest was also pistol-whipped after he resisted the taking of his wallet. His injuries required a trip to the hospital, but he was able to call 911 to report the robbery.
That case will go to trial in Fredericksburg Circuit Court in January.
He’s also facing grand larceny charges in the cities of Hopewell and Richmond.