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Jury recesses in armed robbery trial

King accused of holding up state ABC store at gunpoint; deliberations will resume on Monday

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- A Winchester Circuit Court jury failed to reach a verdict Friday evening in the case of a man accused of robbing a liquor store clerk at gunpoint in October.

Bernard William King, 28, is charged with one count each of robbery and use of a firearm in the commission of the felony. Authorities charged King with the Oct. 22 robbery of the state ABC store in Ward Plaza at 2218 Valley Ave. in Winchester.

Commonwealth's Attorney Alex Iden sought to prove King committed the crime by using the testimony of several witnesses.

King's attorney, Mark Vann, argued that the prosecution's case rested on the words of convicted felons.

But after deliberating for more than 31/2 hours, the jury informed Judge John Wetsel Jr. that members had not yet reached a verdict and asked him about the "next step." Wetsel ordered the jury to recess for the weekend and to return to court Monday at 10 a.m. to resume deliberations.

"Everyday life interrupted by threat and intimidation -- that's what this case is all about," Iden told the panel during opening arguments.

The panel of eight women and four men were shown video surveillance footage of the robbery, which showed a man in a trenchcoat, wearing a bandanna over most of his face and a knit cap on his head, leading the clerk to a cash register.

The clerk recounted what happened the morning of Oct. 22 when a "very tall" black man in a beige or light green trenchcoat, wearing a black "toboggan" cap and red bandanna covering his face, walked into the store.

Then the man came up to her.

"He said, 'go up front and get your cash,' and I said, 'you gotta be kidding,'" she testified. "He said it again and I seen the gun inside the trenchcoat."

The clerk said the man led her to the cash register at the front of the store. She opened the register and gave him $227 in cash from the drawer. He then left the store, she said.

The clerk testified she could not identify the robber.

Two witnesses testified they saw King outside the liquor store before the robbery. Both identified King as the man they saw standing by the business while wearing a beige or light-green trenchcoat and a black knit cap.

The second witness, a woman who works in the shopping center, said she saw King run out of the store, drop something, then locked eyes with her as he looked up.

Vann called detective Frank Myrtle, with the Winchester Police Department, who said the second witness to identify King at the scene pointed out the suspect in a photo lineup shown to her two months after the incident. Vann questioned the witness' reliability.

Two other witnesses, both with felony convictions and pending cases in the same court, testified for the commonwealth that King told them he robbed the ABC store.

Vann argued the commonwealth had no scientific evidence such as DNA or even fingerprints, nor a firearm that may have been used in the incident.

Iden rebutted Vann's closing argument, telling the jury the two witnesses with pending cases in the court had not been offered any deals for giving testimony at the trial.

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