Burglary at nursery to be tried

July 23, 1997


Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG - A Martinsburg man pleaded guilty Tuesday to three break-ins, but will stand trial for another that resulted in $58,000 in damage to a Berkeley County nursery.

Lloyd A. Locke Jr., 19, pleaded guilty to burglary and two counts of breaking and entering, but denied involvement in the Dec. 9, 1995, burglary at the Woodbrier Nursery off Weavers Lane near Bedington.

The agreement came one day before Locke was to stand trial for one of several break-ins in which he was charged.


In the nursery break-in, three men and a woman stole several Bonsai trees and two ivory statues, but left the doors open and slashed the plastic linings of the greenhouses, according to court records.

The temperature that night dropped to 14 degrees, killing the plants and a number of exotic birds, court records state.

"We didn't have insurance for vandalism. If they'd set a fire we'd have been okay," owner Art Weber said in a telephone interview.

Weber figured his losses at close to $80,000, but doesn't expect he'll ever be fully reimbursed.

Weber said the losses included about 10,000 poinsettias for the holidays, 2,500 geraniums and all the house plants at the business. Cockatiels, cockatoos, parrots and other birds froze to death.

"We had to sell personal possessions just to survive. I wish they could walk in my shoes for a while, just so they'd know what it's like," he remarked.

Weber said he wouldn't go along with a plea bargain and Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely concurred.

Locke is scheduled for trial in the nursery break-in on Oct. 16. He will be sentenced on the other charges on Oct. 24. Games-Neely said he faces one to 15 years in prison.

Locke admitted to a burglary at the Porterfield Lane home of Donard Williamson in February 1996 in which firearms, silver dollars, silver certificates and porterhouse steaks were stolen. He also admitted to break-ins at Explo-Tech Inc. near Martinsburg in February 1996 and the Bedington Crossroads Store in December 1995.

In exchange for the plea, he will not be prosecuted for four other break-ins, but is responsible for paying restitution.

Games-Neely said Locke, who was arrested last July, was involved in the crimes with anywhere from two to five accomplices at a time.

Other cases are either set for court, awaiting a possible grand jury indictment, or still at the magistrate court level.

Games-Neely asked Judge David Sanders that Locke's sentences run concurrently.

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