At least one of the final two defendants in the murder of convenience store owner Donald Claude Arnder will be brought back to Surry County to stand trial for his alleged crimes.
During a bond hearing in Bland County, Va., General District Court Wednesday morning, Joshua Robert Berry, 28, told the court that he will not be fighting extradition to North Carolina.
According to Sheriff Graham Atkinson, a time will now be set for Surry County officials to travel to Bland County and pick up the suspect.
“Normally, when they waive we’ll be given notice of their waiver and we’ll have a little time to work out a schedule to go get them,” he said.
The mood of both Berry and his wife, Sarah Lynn Looney, also known as Sarah Berry, 24, was a sharp contrast during Wednesday’s court appearance than during a previous appearance, when they were much more vocal with reporters, according to Stephanie Crace, a reporter with WVVA-TV in Bluefield, W.Va.
“They were much more calm going into the courthouse this time than they were last time,” she said.
Berry is facing charges of murder, attempted armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery in connection with the May 25 shooting.
Berry’s wife also had pending charges in at least two jurisdictions in Virginia dropped during Wednesday’s appearance, but doesn’t have an official extradition hearing scheduled until Sept. 12.
She has been charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery and accessory after the fact to murder.
A third defendant, Emanuel William Foster, 23, is being held without bond in the Surry County Jail after being picked up at a Roanoke, Va., hospital, where he was under police guard while recovering from a gunshot wound allegedly sustained during the Mount Airy crime.
Virginia stepping aside for Surry County
During the extradition hearing Wednesday, the Commonwealth of Virginia agreed to nol-pros, or not prosecute at this time, some of the charges in that state against both Berry and Looney.
But Virginia State Police Sgt. Michael Conroy, who is familiar with the case, said that doesn’t mean that the charges can’t be brought in the future.
“It’s kind of a routine thing to nol-pros charges when there are capital murder charges in another jurisdiction,” he said. “We got rid of our charges in this case so North Carolina can come and get them, but can re-bring the charges if necessary.”
Even more charges, however, could be forthcoming for the trio.
Conroy confirmed Wednesday that Virginia is in discussions with federal authorities about the possibility of charging them with federal crimes.
“The feds are looking at adopting the case, but we don’t know how that will work in light of the capital murder charge in North Carolina,” he said. “But I can confirm that we’ve definitely been talking to the federal government about the chances of sending our (Virginia’s) part of the case to a federal jurisdiction.
“There have been meetings between the federal government and our prosecutors.”
In North Carolina, first-degree murder is considered capital murder because it could result in the death penalty. According to the pertinent North Carolina statute, first-degree murder is a killing “which shall be committed in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of any arson, rape or a sex offense, robbery, kidnapping, burglary, or other felony committed or attempted with the use of a deadly weapon…”
The reason federal charges could be applied is due to the multitude of jurisdictions involved in their crimes, Conroy said.
Police believe the trio were involved in a “multi-state crime spree,” that included robberies in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and Florida.
Berry and Looney also are facing charges related to the robbery of a business 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 asked for Berry’s extradition to answer for alleged armed robberies committed in that state.
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.