DOBSON — The three defendants charged in the May 25, 2012, murder of Eddie’s Zip Food owner Donald Claude Arnder are set to have their day in court next month.
Joshua Robert Berry, 28, of Bluefield, W.Va., Emanuel William Foster, 23, also of Bluefield, and Sarah Lynn Looney, also known as Sarah Berry, 24, of Bluefield, are set to appear in Surry County Superior Court on July 23 at 9 a.m., according to officials with the Superior Court Clerk’s Office.
While they are scheduled to appear in court, it is unclear whether the trio will stand trial during the appearance, Superior Court officials said, noting that the timing of the trial is up to the county’s District Attorney’s office. However, that date has been tentatively set aside as a first trial date for the suspects.
District Attorney Ricky Bowman was out of the office Wednesday and was not available for comment, according to staff at the office.
Police believe Arnder was killed during a botched robbery attempt of the convenience store located just off of U.S. 52 in Mount Airy.
In early June last year, Mount Airy police traveled to Roanoke, Va., to take custody of Foster and transport him to Surry County, where he was served with warrants charging him with murder, attempted armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery.
Foster was taken into custody at the Roanoke City Jail, where he was taken after being treated for several days at a hospital in the Virginia city. He was recovering from a pair of gunshot wounds allegedly sustained during the Mount Airy robbery.
Since that time, he has been held in the Surry County Jail without bond.
Joshua Berry was brought back to Surry County on July 20, 2012, and charged with murder, attempted armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery.
He was ultimately taken into custody after several days on the run from police from multiple states in Bland, Va., at what police described as a trailer/camper about a half mile up Dry Fork Road.
Berry also is being held in the Surry County Jail without bond.
His wife, Sarah Lynn Looney, turned herself into the Bluefield Police Department the day after the fatal Mount Airy shooting.
She was taken into custody by Mount Airy police in Tazewell, Va., in August and transported to Surry County, where she was charged with murder, conspiracy to commit armed robbery and accessory after the fact to murder.
Like the others suspects in the case, Looney is being held without bond while awaiting her court appearance.
Alleged Crimes In Multiple States
While the Surry County murder charges have taken precedence, law enforcement officials noted that at the time of the Arnder shooting, the three were believed to have been involved in what police called a “multi-state crime spree,” including crimes in Virginia, West Virginia and Florida.
Berry and Looney also had been charged in connection with the robbery of a movie theater in Bland, Va., and all three suspects have been charged with the robbery of a movie theater and a convenience store in Wytheville, Va.
It is unlikely they will face a jury related to those charges due to the seriousness of the Mount Airy crime, officials have said.
At the time of his arrest, Berry had outstanding warrants from the Wytheville, Va., Police Department charging him with larceny, kidnapping, weapon possession, robbery, possession of burglary tools, and pick-pocketing, according to a statement issued by the Virginia State Police shortly after his arrest.
The Washington County, Va., Sheriff’s Office has charged him with “several counts of robbery, firearm possession, kidnapping and weapon offenses,” the Virginia State Police said, and a circuit court violation of probation order has been issued in Brevard County, Fla., against Joshua Berry, on charges related to a previous armed robbery conviction.
Despite the multiple charges in several states, Berry chose not to fight extradition to North Carolina to answer for his alleged crimes, instead telling a Bland County, Va., judge that the state of North Carolina could “come get me,” when informed he was facing murder charges in Surry County.
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.