DOBSON — The Surry County District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday that pending state charges will be dismissed against three individuals accused in the killing of Mount Airy business owner Donald Arnder.
The defendants, Joshua Robert Berry, 32, Emmanuel William Foster, 27, and Sarah Looney Berry, 28, of Bluewell, Virginia, were each sentenced in federal court in November on convictions associated with a 2012 armed robbery spree that spanned three states and ended with Arnder’s death.
Joshua Berry and Foster were given prison sentences of about 61 years and 62 years, respectively, and Sarah Berry was sentenced to 34 years.
Charges had been issued in Surry County shortly after the three suspects were apprehended in 2012.
“Our office was contacted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office immediately after the offenses occurred,” District Attorney Ricky Bowman said in a statement.
“The U.S. Attorney indicated at that time that they wanted to prosecute the cases in federal court. Our office made the decision to hold our cases until federal authorities finished their cases.”
The decision to dismiss the local charges was based on the fact that the two principals involved in Arnder’s murder each effectively received a life sentence, Bowman said.
“Also, a dismissal of the state’s charges will assure that these lengthy sentences will be served in federal prison rather than our state prison. And finally, a dismissal of the state’s charges will save the taxpayers of North Carolina hundreds of thousands of dollars for three court-appointed attorney’s fees, expert witness fees and court time that would result in trials of the three defendants.”
Arnder’s nephew and spokesman for the victimized family, Tully Welborn, told The News in November that justice had been served with the federal prosecution.
“We feel like we have closure,” he said.
Bowman extended his and the office’s gratitude to the many parties involved with the prosecution including First Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony P. Giorno and U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Lee, the Mount Airy Police Department and Det. Brad Quesinberry.
“Also, we appreciate the patience of the Donald Arnder family that allowed the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate the multi-state crime spree, seek approval from the justice department in Washington and then prosecute and have the trio sentenced accordingly.”