The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Judge upholds 93-year sentence in home-invasion case
A judge Wednesday upheld the 93-year prison term a jury recommended in October for the getaway driver in a robbery in Stafford last year during which two people were shot.
Clayton George Smith, 27, of Manassas was convicted of eight charges, including robbery, aggravated malicious wounding and armed burglary, following a trial in Stafford Circuit Court.
He was the driver of a car that was seen on a business surveillance camera following the Jan. 29, 2013, robbery at a home at 3927 Jefferson Davis Highway.
Defense attorney Joshua Parrotte argued that Smith did not deserve so much time because he didn’t actually go into the home. But Judge Charles Sharp said he found no reason to alter the jury verdict.
Prosecutors Kristin Bird and Michael Hardiman put on evidence at the trial showing that at least three people displaying guns and wearing masks broke into the home that night and demanded money and drugs.
The three victims did not resist, but two of them were shot multiple times in the legs anyway. Both men were still walking with a limp at the trial.
The robbers left with about $300 in cash. The victims didn’t know them, but their getaway car was parked in a nearby business lot, and cameras showed figures running to the car shortly after the robbery.
The car, which was running throughout the robbery, was traced to Smith’s wife via the license plates.
Smith was stopped driving the same car the next day in Manassas. He told police that he’d had the vehicle the night before but didn’t want his wife to know because he was with another woman. His twin brother testified that Smith was at his home playing video games the night of the robbery and couldn’t have been in Stafford.
But cellphone records showed that Smith had made several calls to his brother that night and that he was in Stafford when the calls were made. The brother, Payton Smith, claimed they didn’t call each other that night because they were together.
One of the guns used in the shooting, a .45-caliber handgun, was found at the home of co-defendant Keith Daniel Williams. Williams is also charged in the Stafford incident and has a trial set for April 10.
Three other men also were charged, but the charges were dropped following a preliminary hearing last year that featured Williams as the key witness. A judge said that Williams’ testimony, which drew laughter from some in the courtroom, was unbelievable.
Keith Epps: 540/374-5404