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Man Pleads Guilty: Robbery, Using Gun

Reynard Lazaro Prather, 23, of Oxon Hill, Md., has been convicted for his role in the May 2010 murder of workman Jose Cardona at a Centreville home. Last Wednesday, Feb. 22, in federal court in Alexandria, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery and using a firearm in the commission of that crime.

The victim was a 39-year-old husband and father of two. When Prather’s sentenced this spring, he could receive as much as 20 years in prison for the robbery offense. The firearm charge carries a mandatory minimum of 10 years behind bars and a possible maximum of life in prison.

Cardona was a handyman and gardener for a wealthy family living in a 9,000-square-foot mansion on Compton Road. The homeowner owned several check-cashing stores in Northern Virginia and wasn’t on the premises when the tragedy occurred.

According to statement of facts filed Feb. 22 with his plea agreement, Prather conspired with two unnamed people to rob the homeowner at gunpoint at his house, where they believed cash from the stores was kept. Prather’s share of the proceeds was to have been $50,000.

The document states that, on the morning of the murder, May 17, 2010, Prather and a co-conspirator drove from Prince George’s County, Md., to a shopping center in Virginia. During the drive, that person enlisted Prather’s help in the plan to rob the homeowner.

He also “gave Prather a duffel bag containing a loaded, semiautomatic pistol,” the document states. “Prather knew that [co-conspirator] also was armed with a semiautomatic pistol.” A third co-conspirator then picked them both up at the shopping center and dropped them off in the vicinity of their target’s residence.

The two, armed men then walked to the house and saw the homeowner leave. He left one of the garage doors open, so the intruders entered the garage to wait for him to return. According to the court document, the co-conspirator allegedly told Prather “his role in the robbery was to restrain [the homeowner’s] sons upstairs in the residence, and he would take care of [the homeowner] upon his return.”

However, before the homeowner got back, the intruders were discovered by Cardona and one of the sons. “The four paired off in a struggle: Prather and the son and [the other man] and Cardona,” the document states. “While so involved, Prather heard a shot fired and saw Cardona lying dead on the driveway in front of the garage. Within minutes, he and [the other man] fled.”

According to the document, an autopsy on Cardona’s body revealed that a 9-mm bullet “passed through his left hand and entered through his left eye into his brain. A magazine containing seven live rounds of .45-caliber ammunition was found on the driveway near where Cardona was shot.”

The document further states that Prather committed the offenses described above “knowingly and intentionally.” And he signed his name underneath words stipulating that the statement of facts is “true and accurate, and that had the matter proceeded to trial, the United States would have proved the same beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Sentencing is scheduled for June 1 before U.S. District Court Judge Anthony J. Trenga. No agreement has been made between the prosecutors and defense attorneys regarding the sentence Prather will receive, and he is not allowed to withdraw his guilty pleas based upon his actual sentence