For Ronald Michael Young, it's three strikes and he's in — prison, that is. Accused of robbing three local banks, he's now had three jury trials in Fairfax County Circuit Court. And in each one, he's been found guilty.
HIS LATEST TRIAL was last week and, at the end, the jury convicted him and recommended he spend 12 years behind bars. And whatever sentence he actually receives from the judge will be in addition to his other punishments here and in Loudoun County.
Two of the banks were in Chantilly and one was in Fair Lakes, and the actual robber was Young's good buddy, Geoffrey Rogers, 43, of Paducah, Ky. He and Young, 39, of Manassas, met while serving time in prison and reunited after both were released.
Early last year, they went on a three-county crime spree — robbing the three banks here, plus two in Loudoun — with Young driving the getaway car. But they were captured April 16, 2006 in Prince William County, after a botched carjacking attempt.
Since then, both men have spent lots of time in jail and in court. Rogers was sentenced to 42 years total for the five bank robberies — 24 years from Fairfax County and 18 years from Loudoun. Young was sentenced to 20 years from Loudoun, and is now looking at a possible 24 years more from Fairfax County:
* On April 10 in Fairfax County, Young was convicted of robbing the United Bank in Fair Lakes on March 17, 2006. Jurors recommended six years in prison, and he'll learn his fate this Friday, July 20.
* On June 15 in Loudoun County, Young received 20 years in prison for the March 30, 2006, robberies of the BB&T Bank in Ashburn and Provident Bank in Sterling.
* On June 26 in Fairfax County, he was convicted of the March 28, 2006 robbery of the BB&T Bank on Lee Jackson Memorial Highway in Chantilly. The jury recommended six years, and sentencing is Aug. 10.
* On July 12 in Fairfax County, he was found guilty of the March 30, 2006 robbery of the Virginia Commerce Bank on Metrotech Drive in Chantilly. This is the case where the jurors said 12 years incarceration; sentencing is Sept. 20.
Young's latest trial was last Tuesday-Wednesday, July 10-11, in Fairfax County Circuit Court. And Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Camille Turner called the bank teller, 29, as her first witness. (Centre View is not revealing the woman's identity since she was a victim).
As head teller at Virginia Commerce Bank, she was working when Rogers entered it, March 30, 2006. She was at her teller station, between 10:30 and 11 a.m. when, through the window, she saw a man extinguish his cigarette and walk "pretty fast" toward the bank and then toward her.
"He had sunglasses on his head and was wearing a black, leather jacket," she said. "He leaned his hands forward on the counter and said, "Give me all your cash and nobody will get hurt."
"I froze; I was kinda scared," said the woman. "I've been a teller for many years and I've never been in that situation before. He asked me to open my drawer and give him the hundred-dollar bills, and then he asked me for the fifties, the twenties and the tens. I followed his instructions."
As a teller, she explained, in a robbery, she's been taught "to just do what they ask." In this case, she said she forked over $2,700. But that's not all.
"I also gave him a dye pack — a device that looks like a pack of $1,000 in twenties — but it has ink inside and, once it passes the sensor at the door, it will go off and spread red ink around the money, [making it] no use," she said. The ink also gets on the robber's hands, she added, making him easier to identify.
The teller said the robber put the dye pack and cash inside his jacket and left, and she pressed the alarm and called her manager.
"The robber didn't say 'we' or 'us' or refer to anyone else being involved in the robbery — is that correct?" asked defense attorney Lavonda Graham. "Yes," replied the teller. And when Graham pointed to Young and asked her if he was the robber, the teller said, "No."
A customer then testified that, prior to entering the bank around the time of the robbery, she saw a man in a dark jacket smoking outside the bank. Next, via a Vietnamese interpreter, Tony Tong — who owns a nearby barbershop — said he was giving a haircut when, through his shop window, he saw "a man running with red smoke coming out from inside his jacket."
Tong said the man entered a vehicle parked in front of his shop, with its engine running and lights on, opened the back door on the passenger side, pulled a package from his clothing and threw it inside the car.
Then, said Tong, "He opened the front door on the passenger side. I noticed there was another person on the driver's side, and the car pulled out and drove away." He said the driver wore sunglasses, but he couldn't identify him as anyone in court because "I didn't pay attention; I was busy cutting someone's hair."
Police Det. Gary Bailey obtained a bank surveillance photo of the robber and submitted it to the media, hoping someone would identify him. He testified that a Crime Solvers call identified Rogers as the robber and led him to Prince William's jail, where both Rogers and Young were incarcerated.
Although Bailey wasn't allowed to tell the jury that the pair knew each other from prison, he said Rogers invited Young to his home in Kentucky for a possible job. There was no job, but the men then drove back together to Manassas where Young lives.
When Bailey questioned Young in jail about this bank robbery, he said Young told him "Rogers smoked a cigarette and then went into the bank. [Young] stated Rogers robbed the bank and he drove him away. Young indicated he received $850 in payment for rent [from the robbery]."
Bailey said Young told him the jacket Rogers wore during the robbery was in his (Young's) home, and police went there and seized it. However, Bailey admitted to Graham that no fingerprints linked Young to the vehicle.
Robbery Det. James Hardy said he retrieved four duffel bags of Rogers' clothing from Young's home, including the black leather jacket Rogers wore during the robbery. He then showed it to the jury — including its interior, with a red-dye stain on it.
Rogers also testified, saying he robbed the bank, but Young didn't drive the getaway car. "You said you didn't have any other friends in Virginia when you came here, but Young, is that correct?" asked Turner. "Yes," answered Rogers.
And although Rogers had previously told police Young did drive the car, but thought Rogers was just inside the bank cashing a check, he changed his story on the stand and denied he'd ever said that.
Rogers said Young only knew details about the robbery because he shared them with Young. Rogers also said he paid a stranger he met in a Washington, D.C., drug area to drive him to and from the bank.
However, Turner got Rogers to admit that he's been convicted of 14 felonies — including seven to nine crimes of "moral turpitude," involving lying, cheating or stealing. Bailey returned to testify that Rogers told him that Young drove the vehicle used in the robbery. And Turner told the jury that, when asked were this bank was, Young was able to locate it on a map.
"There was a concert of action between the two men — there was a plan, a design, a scheme," said Turner in her closing argument. "That makes Young equally culpable under the law for Mr. Rogers' actions. Rogers said he knew this man for 10 years ... I submit to you the relationship between [them] was a lot tighter than Mr. Rogers would have you believe."
Graham said there's no evidence the pair planned the robbery together, nor any evidence linking Young to it. But Turner said Young knew all the minute details about it because he was there in person. "These two have a long history and the defendant received a portion of the proceeds," she said. "That's evidence of his intent."
Judge Gaylord Finch told the jurors: "You are entitled to use your common sense. You are the judges of the facts, the credibility of the witnesses and the weight of the evidence."
After deliberating, the jury returned last Thursday, July 12, at 5 p.m. and found Young guilty. Then, after finally learning of his criminal history during the trial's sentencing phase, the jurors deliberated another 75 minutes before recommending he serve 12 years in prison. Sentencing is Sept. 20.