By Nancy Drury Duncan –
Robert B. Wilson, 34, of Parksley, charged with shooting into an occupied vehicle, a felony, pleaded not guilty in a bench trial.
According to testimony, Wilson shot out both rear tires of a pickup truck belonging to a contract worker for Eastern Shore Broadband because Wilson suspected the man might be stalking a female neighbor who regularly walked in the area.
After hearing the testimony in a bench trial, Substitute Judge H. Thomas Padrick Jr. found Wilson guilty of reckless handling of a firearm, a misdemeanor.
“The defendant got into a confrontation with the victim and shot out the tires of his truck,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Spencer Morgan.
“This was not a crime,” said defense attorney James Broccoletti. “Ms. Justis was walking nearby. She thought she was being stalked. Mr. Wilson knew guns. He aimed at the tires to disable the vehicle until police could come. There was no evidence of malice.”
Betsy Justis testified she was walking near her home when she saw the unmarked pickup truck go past her three different times. She said she became frightened and called her daughter in Oklahoma, describing the truck and telling her she was going to run home. Her daughter immediately called Wilson who is her mother’s neighbor.
Wilson testified he got into his truck and soon saw the Ford Ranger driven by Gustavio Diaz stopped at a stop sign. He asked Diaz what he was doing and Diaz responded, “I am working.” Wilson said he was afraid the man would get away, so he got out of his truck and fired four shots hitting the rear tires. He said the man sped away. “My interest was to disable the vehicle,” Wilson said.
Diaz testified he had been working as an independent contractor for Eastern Shore of Virginia Broadband since 2018 and that he also worked as a FedEx driver. He said he used his own vehicle and said it was not marked with any insignia of his contract position. He said he was in the area making maps of the roads, measuring distances between poles, and didn’t pay any attention to the woman walking. “I had work to do. I was cut off on a back road. I go to Big Road and stopped at the stop sign. I saw him get out and ask what I am doing here and asking me questions. He was moving toward me. I was leaving when I heard shots.” He said Wilson was standing in front of his truck as he sped away.
Judge Padrick found Wilson guilty of the lesser charge of reckless handling of a firearm. He sentenced him to six months, with all time suspended. Wilson was ordered to pay $500 in restitution for Diaz’ tires within the next three months.
Dabreon Lamont Tankard, 20, of Melfa, was found guilty of violating the conditions of his probation by incurring another conviction. Tankard has been on probation since he was released from a juvenile detention facility two years ago after spending almost four years there.
The victim testified Tankard came to her house and wanted to see her son. “He was ready to fight,” she said. When she refused to let him in or allow her son to go outside, Tankard punched her storm door and damaged her car with a cinder block.
For Tankard’s violation of his probation, Judge Padrick ordered Tankard to be on supervised probation for five years and good behavior for 10 years.
Thomas Randolph Wells, 33, of Chincoteague, charged with the abuse and neglect of a child, pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of assault and battery of a family member. He was sentenced to 12 months in jail with six of those months suspended.
In July 2019, Wells’ girlfriend left him in charge of her 6-year-old son. When the child’s mother returned, she saw “significant bruising around the child’s face and hairline,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Morgan. The child initially told his mother he had fallen out of bed. Wells and the mother decided to take the child to the hospital.
When doctors saw the child’s injuries, police were called. The child later said Wells had pulled his hair and Wells confirmed that was what had happened. Morgan said he entered into the plea agreement because he said it would have been difficult to prove Wells’ actions caused a significant threat to the child’s life as required by the statute. He said also that the agreement would prevent the child from having to come to court and testify.
Judge Padrick told Wells he was to have no contact with the child, who lives in Maryland with his father, and ordered Wells to pay restitution of $5,979 for bills relating to the child’s injuries. He remanded Wells to jail to begin serving his six months of active time.
Tina Lynn Thornton, 41, of Parksley, charged with possession of cocaine and destruction of property, entered into a plea agreement with the commonwealth. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney William Fox said he agreed to nolle pros (unwilling to prosecute) the property destruction charge because the homeowner suffered no financial loss from Thornton’s actions. Thornton will participate in the first offender program.
In April 2021, Thornton went to a home and damaged windows and broke a glass front door. When a deputy arrived, he found Thornton in the front yard holding a baseball bat. She said the owner of the home threatened her and had stolen from her. When she was searched, the officer found she had an .11 mm socket in her possession, an item sometimes used to smoke crack cocaine, Fox said. A subsequent lab test found cocaine residue inside.
With Thornton as a participant in the first offender program, adjudication on the cocaine charge will be deferred for one year. During that time, Thornton will be on probation, may use no illegal drugs or alcohol, and must complete 100 hours of community service. If she successfully completes the program, the cocaine charge will be dismissed. She was ordered to return to court on March 2, 2023.
Myron Lee Corbin, 34, of Temperanceville, pleaded guilty to making a false statement to a law enforcement officer in a plea agreement with the commonwealth. He was originally charged with the felony of making a false statement on his application to buy a gun.
Corbin went to Jaxon’s in Parksley to buy a gun and a background check showed a protective order against him in Maryland. He admitted he had received it but did not read it.
“He has learned a lot,” said defense attorney Kelly Vasta. She said he already owned a firearm, but it was stolen. She asked that he not receive any jail time as he is working. She described his experience with the charges as “very humbling.”
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Fox said he was not asking for any jail time. He said the protective order expired on March 2 and that Corbin had no criminal record. Judge Padrick found him guilty of the misdemeanor and sentenced him to six months with all time suspended.