The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Friday, September 14, 2012
By KEN BRADLEY - Staff Writer
A Roanoke man pleaded guilty Tuesday in Franklin County Circuit Court to stealing more than $700 worth of merchandise from a local discount tobacco store on Feb. 3.
Stephen Wayne Leftwich, 21, pleaded guilty to one count of breaking and entering and one count of grand larceny.
Leftwich pleaded guilty to the charges through an agreement with the commonwealth's attorney's office with no agreement on sentencing.
Judge W.N. Alexander II ordered that Leftwich be evaluated for a detention and diversion center prior to his sentencing hearing on Sept. 27 at 4 p.m.
In summarizing the evidence against Leftwich, Commonwealth's Attorney Tim Allen said Leftwich and Justin Allen Lee Ball, 20, of Rocky Mount broke into A.J. Pipe and Tobacco on U.S. 220 North of Rocky Mount on Feb. 3 and stole about $300 worth of cigarettes and 100 containers of synthetic marijuana (sold as incense and often called Spice).
Leftwich told investigators he didn't remember much about the break in and theft because he was "so messed up" at the time on synthetic marijuana, Allen said.
Ball has already been sentenced and is serving 12 months in a detention and diversion center. He pleaded guilty in May to grand larceny and burglary.
Ball was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but the prison time was suspended, contingent upon Ball completing the detention and diversion program within the Virginia Department of Corrections.
Ball was also sentenced to three years probation and ordered to be of good behavior for 15 years. He was also ordered to pay $2,172 in restitution, which includes damage to the store.
Ball admitted to investigators that he and three others (Leftwich and two juveniles) smashed the glass of the front door of the store at 19594 Virgil Goode Highway and stole several cartons of cigarettes and incense (referred to as Spice or K2).
The burglary occurred on Feb. 3 when the front door of the store was smashed with a hammer and an estimated $710 worth of cigarettes and incense was stolen, according to Lt. Todd Maxey with the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.
The incense, which is labeled "not for human consumption," is often smoked, Maxey said. The herbs listed on the container are legal; however, the herbs are often spiked with illegal synthetic cannabinoids, which mimic the effects of marijuana.
A new Virginia law that went into effect on July 1 prohibits the sale of these chemical compounds (synthetic marijuana), so the products can no longer be legally sold.
In February, school resource officer Jeff Sanders identified a male juvenile at the high school who was distributing the synthetic marijuana, Maxey said. As a result, Investigator Brian Webb recovered most of the stolen incense at a residence near the tobacco store on Feb. 9, Maxey said.
Webb identified another teenager, along with Ball and Leftwich, as suspects in the burglary.