THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE CITY OF VIRGINIA BEACH Glenn R.
Kristin Paulding (7 Cities Law, on brief), for appellant.
Rosemary V. Bourne, Senior Assistant Attorney General (Mark
R. Herring, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.
Present: Judges Petty, Chafin and Senior Judge Frank Argued
at Norfolk, Virginia
WILLIAM G. PETTY JUDGE
Deshaud Speller was found guilty of two counts of burglary,
two counts of conspiracy to commit burglary, and two counts
of grand larceny of a firearm. On appeal, Speller argues that
the trial court erred in finding him guilty of conspiracy to
commit burglary because the evidence was insufficient to show
that there was an agreement to commit burglary, that the
trial court erred in finding the him guilty of burglary
because the evidence was insufficient to show that he broke
into a home or entered a home, and that the trial court erred
in finding him guilty of larceny of a firearm because the
evidence was insufficient to show that the items stolen were
firearms. For the reasons stated below, we disagree and
affirm the judgment of the trial court.
appeal, we review the evidence in the light most favorable to
the Commonwealth, granting to it all reasonable inferences
fairly deducible therefrom." Wells v.
Commonwealth, 65 Va.App. 722, 725, 781 S.E.2d 362, 364
(2016) (quoting Martin v. Commonwealth, 4 Va.App.
438, 443, 358 S.E.2d 415, 418 (1987)).
witness, N. Cobb,  testified that on February 26, 2016, at
approximately 12:30 p.m. she was walking home from school. On
her way home, she saw three unknown "[b]lack
African-American" men going into and around the home of
a neighbor to her friend, S. Fry. The men were wearing
sweatpants and sweatshirts with the hoods up. Cobb saw one of
the men knocking on Fry's neighbor's front door while
the other two went in the yard between Fry's house and
the neighbor's house. Then Cobb saw one of the men carry
a "box full of stuff" out from the home of
Fry's neighbor, C. Bare, and put it in the trunk of a
silver Buick. That man then went back into Bare's house,
and Cobb continued walking to her home, which was
"[f]our or five houses" down the street. Ten
minutes later, Cobb saw the silver Buick drive past her
house; she could see two people inside the car.
testified that when Cobb informed her of the suspicious
activity by her house, Fry immediately went to her house and
saw the silver Buick parked across the street from her house
and that of Bare's. Fry took a picture of the Buick's
license plate, which was entered into evidence at trial. Fry
looked in the silver Buick and saw a black book bag, which
she took out and put in her boyfriend's car. Fry then
went into Bare's backyard and looked in his kitchen
window. Fry saw the "silhouette of a black man . . .
standing in the kitchen." Fry ran to her boyfriend's
car and watched as "three black males,  two of them 
carrying rifles," ran to the Buick. Fry described the
rifles as "[l]ong," "black"
"guns." Fry corroborated Cobb's testimony that
the burglars were wearing "grey, black"
"sweatshirts and sweatpants" with "their hoods
Bare testified that when he left for work at 5:00 a.m. on the
morning of February 26th, his house was secured. When he
returned home after being notified of the burglary, Bare
found his home in disarray with his things strewn about the
floor, drawers emptied, cabinets gone through, and his side
garage door "frame was broken out of the door where the
deadbolt and the lock had been secured." Bare noted that
he kept a number of shotguns, rifles, pistols, and ammunition
in a gun safe, inside his garage. Bare found his gun safe
pried open and the guns and ammunition stolen. Additionally,
the burglars took Bare's medication, tablets, laptops,
and jewelry-including a piece of Pittsburgh Steelers jewelry
and other costume jewelry that was found in the silver Buick
later that day.
Blanco, a homeowner in a nearby neighborhood, testified that
he left his home for work on February 26, 2016 at 8:15 a.m.
with the doors and windows locked. When Blanco returned home
at approximately 6:15 p.m. that night, however, he found his
back door "had been kicked open and the deadbolt had
pushed it up against . . . the opposite wall." Blanco
testified that his house was in disarray. Missing from
Blanco's home were at least two bottles of medication and
a handgun-a green "Springfield Armory XD .40."
Blanco kept the handgun "loaded" and on the top
shelf in a closet that had been gone through by the burglars.
Blanco explained that he had "fired" the handgun
"probably several months before" the burglary-it
was "operational" and he had "[n]o problem
after police were called about the burglary at Bare's
home, Officer Kenneth Eavey of the Virginia Beach Police
Department saw a silver Buick pass "right in front of
[him]" at a stoplight and saw two people in the car who
appeared to be black males. He followed the car until it
pulled into a residential driveway. Officer Eavey watched
three black males wearing "winter type"
clothing-"long sleeves" and "a
hoodie"-get out of the car. Officer Eavey got out of his
car and told the men to "[h]old it." The men
glanced in Officer Eavey's direction, acted as if they
were going to the front door, but then "broke and ran
straight . . . for the fence." All three men then
climbed the six-foot fence, ran through the yard, and climbed
over the fence again to leave the property out the back.
Before the burglars fled out of sight, however, Officer Eavey
was able to see them for ten to fifteen seconds and
positively identified Speller as one of the fleeing burglars.
Gregory Blair was in the area and heard Officer Eavey's
radio dispatch regarding the three burglary suspects and had
been told that citizens in the area had called reporting that
they had seen a male running and jumping fences. While
searching for the suspects, Officer Blair could hear dogs
barking from people's yards, noticed some broken pickets
in a fence, looked into the yard, and saw fresh footprints in
the wet grass. Officer Blair then saw a black male, Speller,
running across the yard wearing only underwear and one sock.
Speller was sweating and explained that he was hot and sweaty
because he was out jogging. Needless to say, despite
Speller's explanation, he was arrested at that time.
forensic specialist with the Virginia Beach Police Department
examined the silver Buick and its contents for fingerprints.
In the Buick were several firearms, jewelry, and clothing. He
testified that "[t]he Ruger, the double barrel, the
black rifle, and the black shotgun . . . were in the backseat
of the vehicle." Underneath the driver's seat of the
Buick was "a Springfield pistol," which was
"loaded." The officer was able to obtain one latent
print from the Springfield Armory firearm. That fingerprint
was identified as coming from Speller's left ring finger.
Additionally, among other items of their property, both
Blanco's and Bare's prescription medications were
found in the car.
sitting without a jury found Speller guilty of two counts of
burglary, two counts of conspiracy to commit a felony, and
two counts of larceny of a firearm.
challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support his
convictions. When considering the sufficiency of the evidence
on appeal, "a reviewing court does not 'ask itself
whether it believes that the evidence at the trial
established guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.'"
Crowder v. Commonwealth, 41 Va.App. 658, 663, 588
S.E.2d 384, 387 (2003) (quoting Jackson v. Virginia,
443 U.S. 307, 318-19 (1979)). "Viewing the evidence in
the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, as we must
since it was the prevailing party in the trial court,"
Riner v. Commonwealth, 268 Va. 296, 330, 601 S.E.2d
555, 574 (2004), "[w]e must instead ask whether
'any rational trier of fact could have found the
essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt,
'" Crowder, 41 Va.App. at 663, 588 S.E.2d
at 387 (quoting Kelly v. Commonwealth, 41 Va.App.
250, 257, 584 S.E.2d 444, 447 (2003) (en banc)).
"This familiar standard gives full play to the
responsibility of the trier of fact fairly to resolve
conflicts in the testimony, to weigh the evidence, and to
draw reasonable inferences from basic facts to ultimate
facts." Jackson, 443 U.S. at 319. Accordingly,