Rally’s robbery going to trial

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Mario Skinner of Burnett’s Way, and Robert Pearson of Whitehall Arch, will stand trial for the Oct. 30 armed robbery of Rally’s Restaurant on North Main Street.

Suffolk Circuit Court Judge Thomas A. Moore advised attorneys of both suspects that he would see them back in court for trial on March 4. Skinner is charged with robbery, use of a firearm, wearing a mask in public, abduction, use of a firearm in the abduction, conspiracy to commit a robbery, and possession of a firearm by a felon. Pearson is not charged with use of a firearm since he has no prior convictions, however, he is charged with robbery, abduction, conspiracy to commit a robbery, and wearing a mask.

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The restaurant’s manager told Moore that the robbery happened around 10 p.m., shortly after she had closed the eatery for the night. She testified to hearing a knock on the back door while an employee was taking the trash out.

Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Will Jamerson questioned the young woman, asking her what she did in response. She said she looked through the peep hole in the door but saw no one.

Thinking it was her co-worker, the victim opened the door to find two men, dressed in black and wearing black hoods and &uot;Scream&uot; masks.

The victim testified that one suspect was armed with a handgun, the other with a rifle.

&uot;They ordered me back into the store office,&uot; she said. &uot;I opened the safe and one of them had a black duffle bag and he put the money in there…I hit the panic button and they ran out the door and then ran off through the woods behind the store.&uot;

As the witness was cross-examined by the defense attorneys, she refused to budge on the descriptions she’d provided to police.

&uot;I looked both of them right in the face and I was scared,…I was crying,&uot; she said. &uot;I saw the skin around his eyes through the eyeholes in the &uot;Scream&uot; mask.

&uot;One of the men was light-skinned and the other was dark, and one was short – about 5 feet 3 inches – and the other about 5 feet 8.&uot;

The woman added that the men held their weapons while removing the $800 from the safe and the $400 to $500 from a petit cash fund.

The two suspects, 20-year-old Skinner and 22-year-old Pearson, were picked up quickly, one less than a mile from the scene of the crime, police said. The weapons, clothes and a gym bag with the money in it were also recovered.

Suffolk Police Detective E.C. Harris led the investigation.