Accused of robbing two banks in Chantilly and one in Fair Lakes, Ronald Michael Young decided to have separate trials for each offense.
HIS FIRST jury trial was April 10 in Fairfax County Circuit Court. When it ended, he was found guilty and the jury recommended he serve six years in prison.
Authorities arrested both Young, now 39, of Manassas, and a friend he'd met during a prior prison stint, Geoffrey Rogers, now 43, of Paducah, Ky., last year. Each was charged with five, 2006 bank robberies — three in Fairfax County and two in Loudoun County:
* March 17 — United Bank, Fair Lakes Shopping Center, Fairfax.
* March 28 — BB&T Bank, Lee Jackson Memorial Highway, Chantilly.
* March 30 — Virginia Commerce Bank, Metrotech Drive, Chantilly; BB&T Bank, Ashburn; and Provident Bank, Sterling.
On Feb. 28, Rogers pleaded guilty to the three Fairfax County robberies; on April 6, he was sentenced to 24 years in prison. He's slated for sentencing May 29 in Loudoun County.
During jury trials in February, Young was found guilty of the Loudoun County bank robberies and is to be sentenced in mid-June.
Meanwhile, he's now been convicted of the Fair Lakes bank heist and will return to court June 25 and July 10 for trials for the two other Fairfax County bank robberies.
Prince William County police apprehended Young and Rogers on April 16, 2006, after an alleged unsuccessful carjacking attempt in that county.
And in an April 24 affidavit for a warrant to search Rogers' Toyota Camry, Fairfax County police Det. Gary Bailey wrote that Rogers confessed to committing the robberies and Young admitted driving the getaway car.
ON APRIL 10, a jury of seven men and five women impaneled for Young's first trial here listened to the bank teller during the Fair Lakes United Bank robbery describe what happened. She said a man in a black jacket and gray hat approached her just before 10 a.m.
"He said, 'All your money you have — give it to me so nobody will get hurt,'" said the teller. "He said it to me very loud. We had been trained not to put our lives in jeopardy and to give the money, so I gave him all I had."
She said she had $1,800 in her first cash drawer and the robber told her to give him 100s and 50s. "But I was so confused, I gave him everything — the whole $1,800," said the woman. "He put it inside his jacket, turned around and left the bank. My other colleague pushed the button for security, and she screamed because I was speechless; I'd never been robbed before."
Under cross examining from defense attorney Lavonda Graham, the teller said the robber wasn't in the courtroom and she hadn't seen him get into a car afterward. Then Erica Ownby — a United Bank security officer who deals with robbery response — testified. She said she made photos of the robber taken with the bank's surveillance cameras and gave them to police.
Det. Bailey testified that, after police released the suspect's photo, they received a tip from Christine Young (the defendant's sister), and Bailey then went to the Prince William jail to interview her brother. The detective said that, after Ronald Young was read his Miranda rights, "He stated that he was the driver of the car for Rogers."
Bailey said the men knew each other a few years and, after Rogers' job in Kentucky fell through, he briefly lived with Young in Virginia. Bailey said Young told him Rogers had received less than $2,000 from the robbery and that Rogers was the robber and he was the driver.
"[Young] said he'd parked Rogers' car near some apartments behind the bank and that the bank had a green sign," added Bailey. "And he said [the robbery] happened on St. Patrick's Day."
GRAHAM GOT Bailey to admit there's no physical evidence, such as DNA or fingerprints, or eyewitness testimony linking Young to the robbery. However, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Camille Turner asked Bailey, "What did this defendant tell you about the amount of money he received [from the robbery]?" And Bailey replied: "He mentioned he'd only received about $850 to assist with rent payment."
Rogers himself testified and said Young wasn't involved in the Fair Lakes robbery. He said that — while he and Young were at recreation together in the Prince William jail — he told Young he was the culprit. Rogers said he was testifying "to set the record straight" and that he'd told Young about the robbery to "give him a heads up because I left some property at his apartment."
Turner then got Rogers to admit he'd been convicted of more than five felonies. "How many times have you been convicted of crimes of moral turpitude involving lying, cheating or stealing?" she asked him.
Rogers answered: "Bank robbery, once, grand-theft auto, maybe twice — I'm not sure of the exact number." But he lied because he's already been convicted of four bank robberies — including one for which he served nearly 10 years in federal prison.
"How long have you known [Young]?" asked Turner. "Twelve years, off and on," replied Rogers. "Where did you meet him?" asked Turner. "In prison," said Rogers.
Young also testified, telling Graham he hadn't known about the robberies "until Geoffrey" told him. He said he told police he drove the getaway car because "with a 6-month-old daughter at home, a wife and a job, I did not want to be in [the Prince William] jail. I told my attorney that, if I could get out of my [carjacking] charge [there], I'd tell them who did the robbery."
However, Young also admitted that he, too, had been previously convicted of two felonies, including those involving "moral turpitude." And when all was said and done, the jurors didn't believe either him or Rogers.
They returned a verdict of guilty and recommended Young be sentenced to six years in prison. Judge Jane Roush will pronounce sentence May 24.