Final Defendant Pleads Guilty to Armed Robberies, Killing of Store Clerk
Joshua Berry Faces Possible Life Sentence
ABINGDON, VIRGINIA – The last of three individuals who went on an armed robbery spree that ended with the killing of a store clerk in Mr. Airy, North Carolina in 2012, pled guilty today in federal court to a number of charges that carry the potential for a life sentence, United States Attorney John P. Fishwick Jr. announced today.
Joshua Robert Berry, 32, of Bluewell, Virginia, pled guilty today to two counts of armed robbery, two counts of brandishing a firearm during those armed robberies, one count of conspiring to commit armed robbery and one count of using a firearm in the commission of an armed robbery that resulted in the death of another person.
Last week, two others involved in the crime spree, Emmanuel William Foster, 27, of Bluewell, Virginia, pled guilty to two counts of armed robbery, two counts of brandishing a firearm during those armed robberies, one count of conspiring to commit armed robbery and one count of using a firearm in the commission of an armed robbery that resulted in the death of another person. Sarah Looney Berry, 28, of Bluewell, Virginia, pled guilty last week to one count of conspiring to commit armed robbery and one count of using a firearm in the commission of an armed robbery that resulted in the death of another person.
“These individuals took part in a crime spree that ultimately robbed a man of his life,” United States Attorney John P. Fishwick Jr. said today. “For nearly a month, a community was terrorized as these defendants committed armed robbery after armed robbery. Justice has been served today and I am thankful to the brave men and women who investigated this case and ultimately put an end to this group’s actions.”
According to evidence presented at previous hearings by First Assistant United States Attorney Anthony P. Giorno and Assistant United States Attorney Zachary T. Lee, Joshua Beery, Foster, and Sarah Berry, conspired to commit a series of armed robberies in Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina from April 2012 through May 2012.
Berry admitted today that on April 29, 2012, he and Foster robbed the Marquee Cinema in Wytheville, Virginia. Both men carried firearms during the robbery and were wearing black hoodies with bandanas covering their faces. Berry said they entered the business with their weapons drawn and ordered the manager to empty the registers. When they were told there was no money in the registers, Joshua Berry and Foster took the manager, and another employee, into a back room and told them to open a safe. As the manager was having trouble opening the safe, Foster put his handgun to the manager’s head and threatened to kill him if the other employee did not get the safe open. The manager was able to open the safe, which contained $4,317. Video from a nearby Wal-Mart showed a dark colored, four-door sedan, matching a vehicle commonly operated, at that time, by Sarah Berry, waiting in the parking lot behind the theater. Sarah Berry admitted last week in federal court to driving Joshua Berry and Foster away from the robbery in the sedan.
Joshua Berry also admitted today that on May 21, 2012 he and Foster robbed the Abingdon Cinemall. The two men once again entered the business wearing black hoodies, but this time wore full-face masks and sunglasses and once again had guns drawn. When the manager observed the men entering the business, she ran to her office, one of the men saw her and chased her. Foster and Joshua Berry robbed the cash registers of the business and left with approximately $200 in cash. Video surveillance from Abingdon High School, which is located nearby, showed a pick-up truck waiting behind the business with its lights on during the robbery. Sarah Berry admitted last week to using her father’s pick-up truck during the robbery to drive Foster and Joshua Berry away from the scene.
On May 25, 2012, at approximately 11:50 p.m., Joshua Berry and Foster entered Eddie’s Zip Foods in Mt. Airy, North Carolina. The store owner, Donald Arnder, and his employee, Gerardo Rojas, were reviewing the days’ receipts and getting ready to close the store at midnight. The two men entered the store with Joshua Berry carrying a rifle and Foster carrying a handgun. Joshua Berry admitted today that he and Foster entered the store and that Foster and Arnder, who had a .38 caliber revolver, exchanged gunfire. Foster shot Arnder twice with a .9 mm handgun, once in the arm and once in the abdomen. Arnder died at the scene. During the exchange, Foster was shot once. After Joshua Berry carried Foster to Sarah Berry’s waiting car, the two brought Foster to a nearby residence and tried to remove the bullet themselves. When they could not get the bullet out, they took Foster to a hospital in Bland, Virginia for treatment. Foster was eventually transferred to a trauma center in Roanoke, Virginia for treatment.
The investigation of the case was conducted by the Virginia State Police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Mt. Airy, North Carolina, Police Department, the Abingdon Police Department, the Wytheville Police Department and the Bluefield, West Virginia Police Department. First Assistant United States Attorney Anthony P. Giorno and Assistant United States Attorney Zachary T. Lee prosecuted the case for the United States.