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Questions of a witness’ credibility were not enough to prevent a guilty verdict for a 23-year old man accused of breaking into a home in Williamsburg’s Port Anne subdivision.
Larry Eugene Coney Jr. of Newport News was found guilty Friday of the March burglary of the suburban home and conspiring to commit the crime.
During Friday’s trial, Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court Chief Judge Mike McGinty heard from a woman who said she arrived at her house in the Port Anne subdivision around 11:15 a.m. March 28 to find broken glass in her garage from a shattered rear window.
She then saw the lock on the door leading to the home from the garage was broken and the door beaten in.
The woman entered the home and retrieved her dog, which had been left in the home when the woman and her husband left for work around 8:45 a.m. She then called her husband, picked him up from work and then called the police.
Police arrived within 10 minutes. An investigation found drawers and cabinets had been rifled through, and a web camera and microphone were missing from a desk drawer.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Gaten’s case relied on a cell phone photo, and testimony from a Port Anne resident who claimed to have seen Coney in the neighborhood, and 22-year-old Keisha Johnson, who claimed she was Coney’s associate in the crime.
The resident of a home on the other side of the street testified he noticed an unfamiliar red car parked in front of his home March 28 in a spot not normally occupied by cars and snapped a photograph of the automobile.
The 74-year-old resident testified she passed a young, slim black man while walking near the scene at about 9:10 a.m. She said she saw a small, red sport utility vehicle pass the man and then turn around near them.
The woman later identified the man as Coney when interviewed by police investigators.
Johnson testified she, Coney and a third man traveled to Williamsburg from Newport News that morning planning “to go into someone’s home and take things that weren’t ours.”
She said she drove the party in her red Honda Accord to the suburban Williamsburg neighborhood. Coney knocked on the doors of “two or three” houses to find an unoccupied home, while Johnson and the other man acted as lookouts.
Johnson said she saw Coney approach the home in question with a drawstring bag from the front and walk toward the rear of the house.
Johnson said Coney was gone for 15 to 30 minutes, during which time she spoke with “an Avon lady” for a distraction.
Johnson said she then saw Coney walk away from the home with the drawstring bag on his back, but did not see its contents.
Johnson was found guilty of grand larceny and conspiracy to commit grand larceny for the same incident in July, and was found guilty of grand larceny and burglary in York County for offenses that occurred April 21.
Defense attorney Fernando Groene argued Johnson’s statements were too inconsistent to be credible in this case.
He said Johnson initially denied any involvement with the crime, and testified at a preliminary hearing that she saw two watches in Coney’s drawstring bag. Neither the occupants nor the police reported any watches as missing from the home.
Groene also argued the Port Anne resident initially testified she was not certain the photo of Coney presented to her in a photo lineup was the man she saw that morning, and that Coney’s photo was the only image to depict a young, slim, black man.
After hearing the testimony, McGinty said there was reason to believe Johnson’s story and found Coney guilty of breaking and entering and conspiracy of breaking and entering.
His sentencing is set for 9 a.m. July 8.
Coney faces additional charges in York County, where he is suspected of burgling another home. He also faces a homicide charge and a malicious wounding charge in Hampton, where investigators believe he is responsible for the death of a 3-year-old.