The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Friday, March 7, 2014
By K.A. WAGONER - Staff Writer
Five of eight charges against two defendants in the case of an armed robbery at a Ferrum residence on Jan. 7 were dismissed Thursday morning in Franklin County General District Court.
Charges of armed robbery, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and assaulting a police officer against Charles Lawrence Gilmore, 31, of Bassett were certified to a grand jury.
But three additional charges against Gilmore were dismissed by Judge George Jones for lack of sufficient evidence.
Both charges against the second defendant in the case, Christopher Hardin Jr., 34, of Bassett, were also dismissed by Jones. The charges were armed robbery and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
Prosecutor Dwight Rudd said he will seek indictments against both defendants from a grand jury.
The charges against both men were the result of an armed robbery that progressed into a shootout with police officers at the residence on Prillaman Switch Road. During the incident, one suspect was shot and a deputy was injured by a bullet from an automatic pistol fired by the same suspect that barely missed his head.
During the preliminary hearing Thursday, the deputy, Sgt. Erik Mollin, testified that he suffered lacerations on his lip and chin, as well as two broken teeth and powder burns on his face.
One resident of the home, Christine Behrens, testified Thursday that she awoke a little after 10 p.m. to find a gun pointed in her face. The man holding the gun, whom she identified in court as "Charlie" Gilmore although he was wearing a ski mask at the time, asked her where her drugs were.
"He said, 'I know you have drugs and I want them now,'" Behrens said, and the gunman proceeded to reach into a small refrigerator in her bedroom and pull out two bottles of pills, oxycodone and Benedryl.
Behrens, who is a paraplegic, said Gilmore's girlfriend had been hired two weeks earlier as her aide. She testified that Gilmore had been at her residence on several occasions during his girlfriend's employment with her.
In addition to her medication, Behrens testified that the robbers took a pistol she kept by her bedside and her tablet computer.
At one point when the robber left her room to search for more drugs, she testified that she picked up her cordless phone and called police. She tried to hide the phone beneath the covers of her bed, but the second suspect came and took it from her.
Behrens also spoke of her roommate, Fred Bowles, who she said was also robbed of $2,200 he had in his wallet. Bowles was suffering from cancer and died several weeks after the incident, which is why the second armed robbery and firearm charges were dismissed against Gilmore.
During a later search of the residence, investigators found marijuana, which Behrens said Bowles used to deal with the adverse effects of this cancer treatment.
During her cross examination, Gilmore's defense attorney, Carolyn Furrow, asked Behrens why she believed the men entered her home in search of drugs, specifically cocaine.
Behrens said she had no idea because there was no cocaine in the house.
Hardin was arrested near the scene about an hour after the incident. Gilmore, who was shot, was arrested following his release from a Roanoke hospital on Jan. 16.