WARRENTON – A Fauquier County judge said on Thursday that he found probable cause to certify to the grand jury the cases of four people alleged to have murdered a Warrenton man during an attempted robbery in January.
Several people who were allegedly involved in some aspect of the events that led to and following the death of Fabian Sosa earlier this year testified in court on Thursday during a preliminary hearing before Judge J. Gregory Ashwell.
Prosecutors in Fauquier County say that in the early morning hours of Jan. 8, Emily Race, 19, and three of her roommates traveled from a townhouse in Woodstock to Warrenton with the intent to rob the men who lived there.
Race, who lived with Miguel Sosa, Fabian Sosa’s brother and roommate, at the apartment for about a month the previous year knew that Miguel Sosa regularly had large amounts of cash on hand, Miguel Sosa told the court.
Race’s time at the apartment in Warrenton was brief, Miguel Sosa said. She slept on the couch, paid Miguel Sosa about $400 for rent for the month and then left. Miguel Sosa said his brother hadn’t wanted her to stay there in the first place because the apartment was already full.
After she moved out, Miguel Sosa said, he and Race stayed in touch — occasionally messaging each other on Snapchat. The conversations never went very far, Miguel Sosa said. Casual greetings were the extent of most of them. Occasionally, an attempt to “hang out” was made, but Miguel Sosa said he had not seen Race since she moved out in late November.
On Jan. 7, Race messaged Miguel Sosa again asking him if he wanted to hang out. The two made plans for her to come over that evening.
Online court information shows that Race had a Warrenton address but, according to witness testimony, she also spent a lot of time at a townhouse in Woodstock. At the townhouse, she met the people with whom she is now facing first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit robbery charges.
Also present for the preliminary hearing on Thursday were Antonio Nehemiah Ogburn, 19, of Michigan; Alexander Jonathan Golden, 18, of Michigan, and Jaden Lawrence Staples, 19, of Woodstock.
According to Makoya Denham, 21, who lived in the townhouse in Woodstock and testified on Thursday, Race had mentioned the fact that she knew someone who lived in Warrenton who had “stuff and money.” Race had been making the comments for a couple of weeks, Denham said, but Denham did not say whether she had ever heard any of the defendants discuss any kind of criminal activity.
Denham also told the court she knew that two people in the house had guns, but that she had not seen any of the defendants leave the house with a gun on Jan. 8.
Denham is also facing charges related to Fabian Sosa’s death — that she provided false information to a police officer at the hospital when she and Race went to the hospital on Jan. 8.
Denham said on Thursday that she gave police a false name and told them a story about going to a party with Race where men came in with guns and Race was shot. Denham said Staples told her to lie and said she felt intimidated.
Days after providing the false testimony to police, Denham said she had a change of heart and called police to tell them what had happened.
The mood in the house in Woodstock on Jan. 7 was tense, Denham testified. There had been arguments about money and people were talking about moving out, she said. Denham said that for most of the day Race, Staples and Ogburn had been holed up inside Staples’ room.
That evening, Race, Staples, Ogburn and Golden were trying to get a ride somewhere, Denham said. Only one person in the apartment, Terrell Tucker, who is also facing charges related to the incident, had a car and they had been trying to get an Uber, Denham said. Later, she said she saw Race messaging someone after no one could get a ride.
On Thursday, Colin Vaughn, a Luray resident, told the court he was the person Race was messaging that evening.
Vaughn had met Race on Tinder, an online dating app, a couple of weeks earlier, he said. The two had messaged each other two to three times a week on Snapchat but they had not met in person, he said.
Early on Jan. 8, Vaughn said, Race messaged him and asked him for a ride to Warrenton. He said she told him she had to pick up some things from an ex-roommate. Vaughn said Race told him that two people were going to go with them.
When he arrived in Woodstock, he said he messaged Race to let her know he was there. Vaughn marked a spot on a map the commonwealth’s attorney handed him to show the court where he went. Vaughn said he waited for five or 10 minutes before Race came outside.
Vaughn said she got in the car with a bag and then said she had to go back inside. About five minutes later, he said, she came back outside with three men.
Attorneys for the defendants said they thought it was strange that Vaughn did not question why more than two men were joining them on their trip to Warrenton after Race said there would be just two. They also asked Vaughn what he thought they were going to get if his car, a Volkswagon Jetta, was filled with people.
Vaughn said he wasn’t sure what he thought they were going to do but he wanted to be helpful.
On the way to Warrenton, everyone was talking but not about anything important, Vaughn said. There was small talk about music, what people liked or didn’t like, but he said he didn’t hear anything about criminal activity.
Vaughn said the three men introduced themselves that night but he couldn’t recall their names. He was able to identify the men for the court, pointing out the three defendants — Golden, Staples and Ogburn — as the men he met that night.
Vaughn told the court that he took Race and the three men to Warrenton and, again, marked a spot on a map for the court to show where he had parked in town.
Vaughn said Race got out of the car and said he saw her walking toward the entrance to some apartments. He said he couldn't see her go inside, and that the three men waited in the car.
About 20 minutes later, he said, one of the men said, “she needs us now,” and they got out and walked in the same direction as Race.
The four were gone for about 10 minutes, Vaughn said, when he saw Race walking quickly back toward the car. The three men followed her, also walking fast, but not running, he said. When Race got back into the car, Vaughn said he saw that her hand was wrapped up and she was “frantic.”
She told him to drive “anywhere but here,” Vaughn said. While he was driving, she kept telling him to “drive faster” and to “get there sooner,” he told the court. Vaughn took the four people back to Woodstock and one of the men handed him a $100 bill from the back seat for driving them.
Miguel Sosa testified Race messaged him when she arrived at his apartment and he got up to let her inside. He locked the door once she was inside, he said and turned around to go back into the living room. Miguel Sosa said Race had been in the apartment for maybe 30 seconds when he realized something was wrong.
After he turned away from the door, he said he saw Race dash back to the door, undo the deadbolt and saw three men with guns barge into his apartment.
One of the men, wearing a mask, walked straight to him, pointed a gun at him and backed him into the kitchen. The other two men, Miguel Sosa said, ran down a hallway to the back of the apartment where there were two bedrooms.
The man in front of him, who Miguel Sosa said he couldn’t identify because of the mask but did say was African American as his hands were not covered, was screaming at him. Miguel Sosa said the man was asking him to tell him where the money was.
Miguel Sosa said he didn’t have any cash. In response, he said the man shot him in the stomach. While he was on the floor, Miguel Sosa said he had a wallet with some cash in the couch. The man rummaged through the couch, found the wallet and then shot Miguel Sosa again.
Miguel Sosa is now blind as a result of the shooting on Jan. 8.
Information and evidence about Fabian Sosa were scarce on Thursday afternoon. The bulk of the commonwealth’s case rests on tying the defendants to the charge of conspiring to commit robbery. The rule of felony murder allows prosecutors to charge someone with murder if someone was killed, intentionally or not, while commissioning a dangerous crime such as robbery.
Deputy Bryan Vickers with the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Department said he was one of the first responders to the scene and he found Fabian Sosa shot dead in his bed. When Vickers first entered Fabian Sosa’s room, Vickers said he saw someone lying very still almost in the center of the bed.
Vickers said he and medical examiners believed whoever was in the bed may have overdosed and administered NARCAN to attempt to revive him. After looking more closely at the body, Vickers said he noticed blood by the body’s right shoulder.
Vickers said he flipped the body over and saw gunshot wounds running up the back of the body. Police identified Fabian Sosa by the driver's license in his wallet on a table in the room where he was found.
Each of the defendant’s attorneys urged Ashwell to strike their client’s name from the charge as no evidence tied any of them to killing Fabian Sosa.
Ashwell said he had heard enough testimony that, although circumstantial, was enough for him to say there was probable cause to see the case continue.
The cases for Race, Ogburn, Golden and Staples were certified to the grand jury, which meets on July 27.