Plea agreement ends shooting case
A prosecutor admitted that the case, which still has not been solved, had some problems.
By Mike Gangloff
A plea agreement Monday ended -- though it did not solve -- the whodunit surrounding a wild, gunshot-filled night two years ago in Northeast Roanoke.
Durwin Evant Bonds Jr., 24, pleaded guilty in Roanoke Circuit Court to two counts of attempted capital murder, principal in the second degree. The language of the amended charge indicates that Bonds, accused of shooting at a police officer and another man, does not admit to pulling the trigger. Instead, he accepted that he was at least working with someone who tried to kill another, Chief Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Betty Jo Anthony said.
Bonds also pleaded guilty to breaking and entering, reduced from the more serious charge of breaking and entering at night with a weapon.
Some 16 other charges, including attempted malicious wounding and wearing a mask, were dropped.
Bonds was sentenced to seven years in prison, with another 23 years suspended, and five years probation.
The plea let Bonds escape what likely would have been a 20-year sentence if a jury convicted him only of the original breaking and entering charge, said his attorney, Ray Ferris.
And it prevented the commonwealth from having to put on a case that it admitted had problems, Anthony said.
Bonds' arrest in October 2007 came after members of the Walker family, a husband and wife and their adult son, awoke to discover an air conditioner pushed from the window of their duplex in the 500 block of Wentworth Avenue.
Nothing else seemed disturbed. When the Walkers called police, it was assumed that whoever tried to break in had left. The male Walkers went to check on their cars.
Orlando Walker II, the son, was behind the duplex when he saw someone in a basement stairwell. He shouted and the figure shot a pistol at him, Anthony said.
With his father, Walker ran into the duplex to get his mother. They fled out the front door. Walker went to call police again.
As he did so, Officers J.H. Wadkins and R.E. Sanders arrived. Still thinking no burglar was present, they walked to the duplex's open front door. Someone came to meet them, then raised a gun.
The officers would have testified that the person on the porch fired a shot, then Sanders fired two in return, Anthony said.
One of Sanders' bullets went through the Walkers' door. The other went through the other door of the duplex. No one was hit and the person on the porch ran inside, then out the back door.
Officers followed, and after a chase, arrested Bonds. Near him on the ground was a bullet of the same type as the casings left at the Walkers' home. A groundskeeping crew found a pistol a month later. tests matched it to the casings.
But a bloody fingerprint noted in an initial report about the gun vanished before it reached the lab, Ferris said. And prints found in the Walkers' home matched neither the family nor Bonds.
And in the minutes between the Walkers' flight and the officers' arrival, the apartment was thoroughly ransacked, Anthony said.
"There was significant evidence there may have been another individual involved," Ferris said.