THE CIRCUIT COURT OF POWHATAN COUNTY Paul W. Cella, Judge
Thomas Bledsoe (The Law Office of B. Thomas Bledsoe, P.C., on
briefs), for appellant.
Virginia B. Theisen, Senior Assistant Attorney General (Mark
R. Herring, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.
Present: Judges Humphreys, Decker and O'Brien Argued at
GRAFF DECKER JUDGE.
Christopher Atkins appeals his convictions for three counts
of breaking and entering and three counts of grand larceny,
in violation of Code §§ 18.2-89 and
18.2-95. The appellant argues that the evidence of
the text messages and tweet recovered from his cellular
telephone were inadmissible because the Commonwealth failed
to prove that he was the person who sent those messages. We
conclude that the Commonwealth sufficiently established that
the appellant was the person who authored the challenged
messages and therefore adequately authenticated the evidence.
Consequently, the convictions are affirmed.
case involves a short string of burglaries and thefts from
three businesses. On August 23, 2015, Deputy Michael Fiedler,
with the Powhatan County Sheriff's Office, responded to
Quality Data Systems, which sells and services banking
equipment, after a break-in was reported. When Fiedler
arrived, the glass in the side entry door was completely
shattered. On the ground among the glass he found a
"ceramic portion" and conducting rod that appeared
to be pieces of a spark plug. Cash in the amount of $1, 100 had
been stolen. As a result of the damage to the property, the
owner secured the door with plywood and pressboard before
leaving for the night.
that night, or in the early morning hours, the door was
broken again. More items were stolen, including three money
counter machines and a digital camera.
August 23 or 24, 2015, another burglary was discovered, this
time at SMG Imports, a car dealership. The glass front door
was shattered, and the office doors were broken. A laptop
computer was missing. Additionally, keys to a "BMW
coupe" were taken from inside the office, and the car
"the 23[r]d or 25th" of that same month, a burglary
also was discovered at a third location, Arborscapes, a tree
care company. The door was "kicked in, " and
two laptop computers were missing. One of the stolen
computers was an "Apple MacBook" with the serial
number C02P1HBXG3QH. A cellular phone and checks made payable
to Arborscapes also were taken.
a week later, Lieutenant Danny Smith, with the Powhatan
County Sheriff's Office, was on routine patrol. Near the
burglarized businesses, he saw a car being driven
erratically, so he stopped the vehicle. The appellant was the
front seat passenger. Smith saw a ski mask and rubber gloves
in the car on the floor of the rear passenger compartment.
Additionally, Lieutenant Smith found a drill and two other
backpack found at the appellant's feet contained school
papers bearing his name, checks payable to Arborscapes,
cameras, and three spark plugs. One of the cameras was the one
stolen from Quality Data Systems.
the traffic stop, Detective Mike Wentworth noticed that the
appellant wore "Nike flip-flops" that looked like
the shoes of one of the individuals who appeared in the
surveillance footage of the break-in at
Arborscapes. Wentworth also found a cellular telephone.
The appellant ...