Executive gives break-in suspect a lift

July 21, 1993|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,Staff Writer

The man accused of breaking into Anne Arundel County Executive Robert R. Neall's home arrived at court yesterday -- in the executive's white Buick.

Mr. Neall was on his way to Circuit Court in Annapolis to testify in the burglary trial of Virgil E. Brown, when he noticed the suspect trying to hitch a ride to the same place.

Mr. Neall pulled over and motioned for Mr. Brown to get in.

"I asked about his family and he asked about mine. That was it," Mr. Neall said later of the encounter.

Mr. Brown, 31, and Mr. Neall have been Davidsonville neighbors for years, but police say that on the night of Dec. 1, the suspect took neighborliness a step too far.

The prosecutor, Assistant State's Attorney Fred Paone, told the jury that Mr. Brown walked into the unlocked Neall home, stole Mrs. Neall's purse and then tried to make a getaway in her Mazda Miata.

Mrs. Neall testified that she heard a racket outside the house when Mr. Brown misjudged the edge of the driveway and backed the sports car into a ditch.

She hustled downstairs and awakened her husband, who had fallen asleep on his recliner.

Mr. Neall slipped on his shoes, grabbed his car keys and gave chase. He flagged down a passing county police officer, but the two men lost their suspect.

However, Mr. Paone told the jury, Mr. Brown made one mistake.

"They come back to the house, take a look in the car, and lo and behold . . . what's there?" Mr. Paone said. "A little red pouch or wallet, call it what you will. And who's identification was in there?

"Mr. Brown's," he concluded.

Mr. Neall, one of five prosecution witnesses, echoed his wife's recollection of events.

Defense attorney Keith Gross told the jury that while all the facts might be correct, no one ever saw Mr. Brown at the scene of the crime.

"The police found the pouch in the vehicle, they questioned Mr. Brown about the event and an officer said he saw someone walk away from the scene," Mr. Gross said. "But no evidence will be presented here today that says, 'I saw Virgil Brown do this.' "

Mr. Gross' case didn't get much of a boost from his only witness, the suspect's mother, Jeanette Brown. She told the jury that if the Nealls said they found her son's identification in the car, she would probably believe her longtime neighbors.

Mr. Brown has an 11-year record of petty crime including theft, battery and disorderly intoxication. The jury will begin deliberations today.

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