By Joe Beck -- firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- A Warren County jury acquitted Randell Wayne Freeman on Wednesday of two charges and convicted him on another arising from the midnight beating and alleged robbery of James D. Cox on Nov. 17
The conviction on assault and battery as a member of a mob and acquittals on robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery came at the end of two-day trial and almost five hours of deliberation.
The jury also sentenced Freeman, 34, of 446 Hill St., to 12 months in jail minus the time he has served since his arrest in December. Judge Dennis L. Hupp said the jury lacked the authority to subtract time served from the sentence, but agreed to use his judicial authority to count time already served as part of the sentence.
Hupp said the conviction for assault and battery as a member of a mob puts Freeman in violation of probation for an earlier offense, meaning he could face additional jail time at a later hearing on the probation issue.
Freeman, covering the front of his chin with one hand, showed little emotion as the verdicts were read. The victim in the attack, James Cox, was absent from the courtroom after taking the witness stand twice during the trial.
Much of the trial involved efforts by Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Nicholas Manthos's efforts and Freeman's attorney, Eric Wiseley, to sway the jury on the credibility of prosecution witnesses.
Manthos told the jury that much of the testimony "laid bare the bad underbelly of some folks in Front Royal."
Cox was joined by two of Freeman's co-defendants, Brandy Knight and Shaumbay Fuller, in identifying Freeman as the first of four people who attacked Cox in an alleyway around Pine Street.
Fuller, 31, of 512 Proctor St., and Knight, 28, of 136 Seacock Drive, testified Tuesday that they and Freeman hatched a plot to ambush Cox by luring him into the alley.
Wiseley insisted both women were lying about Freeman's role in the crime and suggested they were doing so to cover up for Fuller's boyfriend.
Wiseley sought to discredit their testimony by calling them prostitutes. Both women admitted in their testimony to having sex for money at various times and said they were same-sex partners at the time of Cox's beating. Both also admitted to past crimes.
Manthos admitted that Knight and Fuller "were not stellar witnesses."
"They've got their problems. They've got their felony convictions."
But Manthos also insisted that they were telling the truth in their testimony, despite changing parts of their stories from earlier accounts given to police.