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Man accused of breaking into Neall home acquitted


An Anne Arundel Circuit Court jury has acquitted a 31-year-old Davidsonville man accused of entering County Executive Robert R. Neall's home Dec. 1, stealing his wife's purse and attempting to swipe her Mazda Miata.

Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. shook his head in seeming amazement after the verdict. Assistant State's Attorney Fred Paone said he was "absolutely dumbfounded" by the jury's finding.

Meanwhile, defendant Virgil E. Brown walked away a free man and said, "I feel justice has been served for the first time."

Mr. Brown had been charged with breaking and entering, burglary and two counts of theft. After 2 1/2 hours of deliberation, he was acquitted on all counts by the jury of seven women and five men.

"We've all decided not to talk about this case," one jury member said as she walked out of the courthouse.

"I don't really have any comment, except that's what the justice system is all about," Mr. Neall said yesterday. "That's what the jury trial is all about." "I look at it this way, maybe the evidence was circumstantial," Mr. Neall added. "No one could place him at the scene. I've put it behind me." In closing arguments yesterday, Mr. Paone stressed that Mr. Brown's red wallet, containing his identification, was found in the Miata the morning after the robbery. He also cited Bruce Brown's testimony that his brother left home at 12:30 the night of the robbery.

"He told Bruce to 'Take the Fifth Amendment, your testimony might send me away,' " Mr. Paone reminded the jury. "He didn't tell his brother 'Go in there and tell the truth because the truth will set me free.' He didn't say that because the truth, in this case, will put him behind bars where he belongs."

Defense attorney Keith Gross, in his closing argument, reminded the jury that no one ever saw Mr. Brown commit the crime.

"Mr. Paone gave you the testimony [about] the unknown black man seen walking down the road from the crime scene, and he gave you Bruce Brown's testimony saying that Virgil was not [at home]," Mr. Gross told the jury. "He wants you to make a conclusion against Mr. Brown with those details. But there is no concrete evidence Mr. Brown did it."

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