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Two plead guilty in Martinsburg home invasion

August 29, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. -- A bubble gum container stolen in a home invasion-style armed robbery in Martinsburg in April 2007 helped police solve a similar armed robbery that happened three days after the first crime.

Victor B. Potter Jr., 19, and Gary D. Guest, 22, both of Martinsburg, were sentenced Friday to 10-year and 15-year prison sentences, respectively, in Berkeley County Circuit Court after entering guilty pleas to felony counts of first-degree robbery.

A third defendant, Lante J. Cook, 19, also of Martinsburg, was prepared to entered an Alford plea to conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery, but a final decision in his case was delayed to determine whether he qualified for a youthful offender program at the Anthony Correctional Center. In lieu of that option, he could receive a one- to five-year sentence or elect to take his case to trial.

A hearing was scheduled for Oct. 17.

Under an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt, but admits the prosecution has sufficient evidence to gain a conviction.

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Guest already was in jail serving a 27-month sentence that he received in U.S. District Court in May after entering a guilty plea to stealing 26 firearms in January 2007 from a Hedgesville, W.Va., area pawn shop.

Guest entered guilty pleas Friday to two counts of first-degree robbery, but 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes agreed to allow the 15-year sentences be served at the same time, but not overlap the federal sentence.

When Wilkes asked Guest if he wanted to say anything regarding the case, Guest apologized for his "wrongful acts," and added that what has happened to him since "opened my eyes."

"All I would say is, 'I'm sorry,'" Guest said.

After the first robbery and theft of a bubble gum container containing $200 in change from 304 S. Rosemont Ave., surveillance video cameras at Martin's Food Market recorded Potter and Guest cashing in the coins, Prosecuting Attorney Pamela J. Games-Neely said.

After the second robbery at 202 S. High St., police had said they found the bubble gum container filled with dog food in Guest's car, which was found near the home that was invaded in the early morning hours of April 15.

Guest said in court Friday that his wife's gun was used in one of the home invasions. The victims in the Rosemont Avenue home invasion told police they were ordered at gunpoint to lay on the basement floor by two masked men who apparently followed them into the home.

Five family members at the High Street home were awakened by two white males and a black male who pointed guns at their heads and ordered them not to look at the invaders, police had said. They told police the invaders robbed them of jewelry and a cell phone after ransacking the house.

Aside from the jail sentences, both Guest and Potter were ordered to pay restitution to be determined by the 23rd Judicial Circuit probation office and court costs.

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