A Chesapeake man convicted of the 2012 armed robbery of a pizza delivery driver was released from jail on Wednesday after Gov. Ralph Northam granted him a conditional pardon.
Brian Faulcon, now 37, had been incarcerated since April 2018, when his third trial ended with a jury finding him guilty of robbery and firearms. He was sentenced to five years in prison and was due to be released in January 2023.
Faulcon and his longtime friend Branden Smith were arrested shortly after the January 2012 robbery. Charges against Smith, however, were later dropped after the delivery driver said she could not be sure if he was involved.
On Wednesday, Smith was among friends and family who traveled to Caroline’s Correctional Unit in Hanover to greet Faulcon and drive him home. The group cheered and cheered as Faulcon walked out of the jail with a cardboard box full of personal effects, video of the event showed.
Of the. Cliff Hayes, a longtime family friend of Faulcon who helped with the clemency process, was also there.
The conditional pardon ordered that Faulcon be released immediately, but did not clear his conviction. He is required to serve three years of supervised probation and is barred from filing claims related to his criminal case as part of the terms of his pardon.
The robbery took place in a neighborhood near the Greenbrier Mall in Chesapeake. A woman working for a local Papa John’s pizzeria told police she had just gotten out of her car to make a delivery when two men wearing hoodies approached and robbed her.
Officers attending the scene saw Faulcon and Smith enter a house. Police questioned the men, executed a search warrant and arrested them. While the two were handcuffed in separate police cars, the victim was brought in and asked if she recognized them. She positively identified Faulcon, but said she was unsure of Smith.
Faulcon had his own car detailing business and worked as a substitute teacher and basketball coach at the time. His first trial ended in a hung jury and a second was declared a mistrial. He has maintained his innocence from the start.
Smith said there were numerous inconsistencies in the case that should have exonerated his friend. For example, the delivery driver told police the gun used was silver, while the one belonging to Faulcon that was found in his car was black.
Male DNA evidence found in three of the delivery driver’s pockets that the thief put his hand in did not match Faulcon or Smith.
Smith also questioned the fairness of asking a victim to identify an attacker immediately afterwards, when highly emotional and while the accused is handcuffed. Such tactics are known as “showups”.
Jane Harper, 757-222-5097, [email protected]