THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE CITY OF VIRGINIA BEACH Leslie L.
Melissa I. Bray, Assistant Public Defender, for appellant.
Stephen L. Forster, Assistant Attorney General (Mark R.
Herring, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.
Present: Judges Humphreys, Beales and O'Brien Argued at
J. HUMPHREYS, JUDGE
Brittany Suter ("Suter") appeals the November 10,
2015 decision by the Circuit Court of the City of Virginia
Beach (the "trial court") convicting her of one
count of accessory after the fact to murder, in violation of
Code § 18.2-19. Suter's single assignment of error is
that the trial court erred in holding that the evidence was
sufficient to find Suter guilty of accessory after the fact
to a homicide because the evidence did not establish that
Suter was aware that a homicide had taken place.
p.m. on May 21, 2014, Suter, her cousin, Andrew Roberts
("Roberts"), and a third woman arrived at the
Tropical Delights restaurant ("Tropical Delights")
in the City of Virginia Beach. The trio arrived in
Suter's green BMW sedan and parked in front of Tropical
entering Tropical Delights, Suter, Roberts, and their
compatriot passed Tyrone Martin ("Martin"), a
security employee of Tropical Delights, who sat at the
restaurant's entrance near a cash register. Shortly
thereafter, another Tropical Delights employee asked Martin
to approach Suter and ask for her identification in order to
ensure that Suter was of the legal age to be served alcohol.
Because she did not present her identification when
requested, Martin asked Suter to leave. Suter walked to the
entrance, but refused to exit.
and Suter had a verbal confrontation and within a couple of
minutes Suter exited through Tropical Delights' front
door and sat in her green BMW. Approximately one minute
later, Martin came outside and the two exchanged words once
again. At Suter's trial, William Harper
("Harper"), a Tropical Delights patron who had
stepped outside the restaurant moments before Suter and
Martin came outside, testified that Suter and Martin were
arguing back and forth when Martin turned and walked away
from Suter stating, "I don't have to put up with
that." Then, Suter spat at Martin. During his trial
testimony, Harper identified the defendant, Suter, to be the
same woman that spat at Martin outside of Tropical Delights
on May 21, 2014.
re-entering Tropical Delights, Martin returned to his seat by
the entrance. Seconds later, Suter barged back into Tropical
Delights and yelled to Roberts, who was at the
restaurant's bar, that it was time to go. While waiting
for Roberts, Suter reengaged in her verbal quarrel with
entrance door, Roberts physically restrained Suter and forced
her to exit. Once outside, Suter told Roberts that Martin had
spat at her. Roberts turned to immediately confront Martin
who stood in the doorway. At this point, two other Tropical
Delights employees stood in front of Martin-the three
employees made a triangular formation in the doorway. Suter
testified that in response to Roberts' inquiry of whether
Martin had spat on Suter, Martin stated, "Yeah, I spit
on that little B." Instantly, Roberts pulled a gun from
his right hip, and fired two shots directly at Martin
striking him in the abdomen and right thigh. A security video
captured the entire event.
this altercation between Roberts and Martin, Suter stood
behind and to the right of Roberts. Suter's view was
unobstructed. After shooting in the direction of Martin,
Roberts fled to Suter's BMW. Suter rushed to the
driver's seat of the BMW and drove herself, Roberts, and
the other woman to the back of Tropical Delights. Roberts and
the other woman exited Suter's BMW and fled the
scene. Suter drove away.
Martin had stumbled back into Tropical Delights and laid on
the floor by the cash register holding his abdomen. Two days
later, on May 23, 2014, Martin died as a result of the
20, 2015, a grand jury indicted Suter on the following
charges: one count of accessory after the fact, in violation
of Code § 18.2-19; one count of attempt to assault and
batter Martin, in violation of Code § 18.2-57; one count
of obstruction of justice, in violation of Code §
18.2-460(D); and ...