A hearing today in a Virginia court will determine whether two of the three suspects in the shooting death of Donald Claude Arnder will fight being brought back to Surry County to answer for their alleged crimes.
Arnder, 58, was killed during a botched armed robbery attempt of Mount Airy convenience store Eddie’s Zip Food on May 25.
During today’s hearing in the Bland County, Va., General District Court, two of the co-defendants in the case, Joshua Robert Berry, 28, and Berry’s wife Sarah Lynn Looney, aka Sarah Berry, 24, will either waive extradition or tell the judge that they wish to fight the process.
If the pair choose to waive extradition, local police can schedule a time to pick them up and being them back to Surry County.
If they decide to fight the extradition process, North Carolina must initiate a formal request for extradition through the Governor’s office. In this case, the judge is likely to set a court date within the next month or so to determine whether North Carolina’s request for extradition is appropriate.
But while nothing is set in stone at this point, the attorney for a third co-defendant has indicated that the pair may wish to fight the process.
During a June court hearing for Emanuel William Foster, 23, Foster’s attorney asked Surry County Judge Spencer G. Key Jr., to put off the appearance because “there are two co-defendants fighting extradition in Virginia.”
Key approved the motion and set a tentative Oct. 24 court date for the trio, pending the extradition of Looney and Berry.
This about-face comes on the heels of some tough talk by Berry and Looney, who, during an earlier court appearance in Virginia, told reporters to “tell them to come get me,” during a profanity-laced diatribe when it was noted that they were wanted for the Arnder murder.
Foster is awaiting trial in the Surry County Jail after spending time in a Roanoke, Va., hospital recovering from a gunshot wound allegedly received during the Mount Airy robbery.
He has been charged by local police with murder, attempted armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery, and is being held without bond.
Looney turned herself in to Bluefield, W.Va., police shortly after the crime and has been charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery and accessory after the fact to murder.
Locally, Berry is facing charges of murder, attempted armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery.
Police allege “multi-state crime spree”
The three defendants are believed by police to have been involved in a “multi-state crime spree,” including robberies in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and Florida.
“Basically, they’re being held on charges from four different states,” said Virginia State Police Sgt. Michael Conroy.
Berry and Looney also are facing charges related to 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.
In addition, Berry is a suspect in the April 19 and May 13 robberies of a movie theater in Bluefield.
The state of Florida also is seeking to have Berry extradited to answer for alleged armed robberies committed in that state.
While it remains unclear what will happen if Berry and Looney choose to fight being brought back to North Carolina, law enforcement officials familiar with the case have said that typically the jurisdiction with the most serious charges takes precedence.
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.