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Plea entered in armed robbery of 95-year-old woman

  • Charles County,St Mary's County
  • By

 

William Joseph Gross

Leonardtown, MD -- A Charles County man pled guilty June 24 to the armed robbery of a 95-year-old woman in her St. Mary’s County home. William Gross, 51, of Newburg entered a plea to two counts of armed robbery and one count of firearm use/felony/violent crime. Judge Karen Abrams ordered a pre-sentence investigation.

Gross entered the plea after a jury had been selected for a trial ready to start. He initially told Judge Abrams that he had not accepted a plea agreement that the state had offered and wanted to proceed with the trial. But after a recess and meetings in the judge’s chambers he changed his mind.

Gross and two co-defendants were charged with a number of offenses after being arrested in September of last year for the August incident in the Town Creek neighborhood. The three entered the home wearing masks and with Gross brandishing a handgun. According to Deputy States Attorney Julie White, the elderly woman and her caregiver were tied up on beds. She told Judge Abrams, “Both women will tell you they thought they were going to die.”

The 95-year-old woman, in a wheelchair, and her caregiver were in court prepared to testify at the trial that never happened.

White said that Gross at first denied he was involved but later said he was with the two others but never entered the house. One of the other two defendants was the elderly woman's former caregiver. She had been fired from her job.

That former caregiver, Jessica Johnson, 25, of no fixed address, implicated Gross and the other defendant, Johnny B. Young, Jr., who has been sentenced to 40 years in jail. Johnson was scheduled to be sentenced June 29.

Items stolen from the Town Creek home, including those of sentimental value belonging to elderly woman's late husband, were recovered from Gross’ home on South Cuckhold Creek Road in Newburg. The stolen items were stacked up in the courtroom ready to be introduced into evidence if the trial had taken place.

White said that Johnson also more recently implicated Gross in another home invasion and robbery. Gross was charged in May of this year with first-degree burglary and other offenses in connection with that incident. At the June 24 plea hearing, Gross also pled guilty to that first-degree burglary charge.

As part of the plea agreement, White said she had agreed to have the first-degree burglary sentence run concurrent with the three convictions for the Town Creek robbery. But White said there was no agreement made as to sentence. That will be up to Judge Abrams.

The path leading up to the pleas by Gross was winding. He originally was scheduled to go to trial on April 1 but at the 11th hour expressed displeasure with the representation of his attorney, public defender Gerald Riviello. Then, a rescheduled trial for late May was postponed due to the unavailability of a witness.

Gross was represented at the June 24 hearing by public defenders Edie Fortuna Cimino and Brian Posey.

Judge Abrams said sentencing would be in 60 to days after completion of the pre-sentence Investigation (PSI) by the Department of Parole and Probation. Gross remains incarcerated without bond.

Contact Dick Myers at dick.myers@thebaynet.com

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