Jury: 210 years for robbery

Published 10:17 pm Monday, March 22, 2010

A jury has recommended 210 years in prison for a Portsmouth man it found guilty of robbing and beating a 65-year-old woman in her home last year.

Aaron James Brennan was convicted on Friday of aggravated malicious wounding, robbery, statutory burglary, abduction for pecuniary benefit, grand larceny, unauthorized use of a vehicle, destruction of property and wearing a mask in public, as well as several firearms and conspiracy charges.

Evidence presented in court last week by prosecutors Bob Sandwich and Marie Walls showed that Brennan, Clinton Ivey and Jabree Newman-Mumford, a juvenile, broke into a home in the 800 block of Freeman Mill Road on March 4, 2009.

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The woman who lived there, a widow, was balancing her checkbook when her dog, Max, began to growl. She looked up to see what was bothering him and saw the three men standing in her living room, wearing dark hoodies and bandanas over their faces and carrying bolt cutters.

The men began shouting and cursing at the victim, threatening to cut her throat if she did not tell them where the money was. After the men beat her with their fists, she told them where her purse was and told them she didn’t have any money.

The men, outraged, found her deceased husband’s .22-caliber rifle and pointed it at her, leading her through the house and slamming her into a closet door, which broke her nose, blackened her eyes, split her lip and broke her wrist.

The woman then was forced into her bathroom, where the men bound her head, neck, hands and feet with duct tape as she sat on the toilet. The perpetrators then closed the door and continued to tear the house apart. They took her car keys and her Bank of America card, and forced her to tell them the PIN that matched the card.

Finally, the men left in the victim’s car. She was able to cut her tape bindings with nailclippers in the bathroom. With Max still at her side, she tried to call for help, but the men had cut the phone line. She then walked to a neighbor’s home, where police and emergency crews responded and took the victim to Sentara Obici Hospital to be treated for her injuries.

The perpetrators tried to use the woman’s bank card at four different locations, but were unable to do so, because police had reported her card stolen.

Four days later, police, acting on a tip from a citizen, arrested Aaron Brennan at his apartment on County Street in Portsmouth. Suffolk police recovered electronics, jewelry, coins and papers taken from the victim.

All three perpetrators are set to be formally sentenced on June 24. Ivey and Newman-Mumford pleaded guilty to the crimes.