Salisbury man on trial for role in 2006 robbery
By Shavonne Potts
Investigators say Tyrone Chambers was cooperative three years ago, but today the 27-year-old is facing charges in a 2006 robbery.
Chambers is on trial for the assault and robbery of La Cava owner Mona Moscardini on Oct. 27, 2006, just outside her restaurant.
Moscardini was beaten and stabbed. Her purse and cell phone were stolen.
Also charged is Kevin Toomer, 20. He was arrested in connection with the robbery a month after the incident.
Salisbury Police investigators testified Thursday during the trial that Chambers was cooperative and answered their questions. Chambers did however give police a false name when he was questioned and ran from police the night of the incident.
Moscardini was leaving the restaurant. It was raining and she’d just began tucking her umbrella into her car when she felt a tug.
A man, later identified as Toomer, asked for her purse.
Moscardini said she could not understand the man and so she questioned what he said.
She was punched in the face twice and by that time the suspect was inside her car, and he had a knife.
Moscardini didn’t realize she’d been stabbed in the left breast, back and ribs.
She fought back and wrestled the knife away from him. She tried to use the knife on him and it broke in half. The man pulled her out of the car and hit her again.
Officers chased Chambers, who ran from the 100 block of East Bank Street, through a field and onto South Lee Street. Department reports said Chambers ran on East Horah Street and stopped at 400 S. Lee St.
Chambers was charged with resisting arrest.
He gave the name of Tyrone Davis, which officers later found to be untrue.
Testimony revealed Chambers lived on East Horah. His attorney, John Basinger, asked Salisbury Police Detective Travis Shulenburger if he was aware Chambers lived on East Horah. The detective said he was not.
Basinger contends his client was in the area and was heading home when the crime was committed.
Chambers gave a false name because he didn’t want to be seen as a snitch on the streets, Shulenburger said.
In a statement to police, Chambers said he and Toomer had been playing pool. Toomer lost money and was determined to recoup what he’d lost.
“He said he was going to get his money back,” Chambers said.
Chambers initially told police he ran from the scene when he heard Moscardini scream.
He said in a later interview he went to the passenger side of Moscardini’s vehicle to open the door so she could get out. He said her purse fell out and he placed it beside the car and then ran.
Police investigators disagree, saying Moscardini struggled to keep her purse when a second suspect opened her door and snatched her purse.
Investigators say that second suspect was Chambers.
On the night of the incident, Moscardini told detectives one suspect was wearing a white jacket and the second a large black jacket. When police caught up to Chambers he was wearing a black jacket.
Assistant District Attorney Karen Biernacki asked if investigators checked the black coat.
Shulenburger said the coat was not damaged.
When Chambers was searched, he had no weapons, drugs or any of Moscardini’s stolen items on him.
Investigators believe Chambers had time to ditch any stolen items when he ran behind a home on Horah Street, where the evidence was found.
A hat found near the scene was sent to be tested for any possible DNA.
Salisbury Police Detective Mike Colvin said the lab was not able to obtain any DNA or valuable evidence from the hat.
Colvin questioned Chambers not long after his November arrest. The veteran detective asked Chambers why, if Toomer was the one who committed the crime, did he not stop him?
Chambers told police, “he wasn’t involved.”
When the detective asked Chambers why he ran from police.
“Why does anyone run from the police?” Chambers asked.
Police were not able to locate the white coat Toomer was said to be wearing.
Basinger asked Colvin if his client benefited from any of the stolen items.
“No,” Colvin said.
“Is there any basis to say he got rid of any of the evidence?” Biernacki asked.
Colvin said there was a belief that Chambers could have disposed of Moscardini’s purse and cell phone.
Basinger asked if any witnesses saw Chambers running with Moscardini’s red purse.
Colvin said no.
“Any witnesses see Kevin Toomer with the red purse?” Biernacki asked.
“No,” Colvin said.
Basinger requested the charges against his client be dismissed on the grounds of insufficient evidence.
Basinger said his client was present during the robbery and the prosecutor had not shown proof of a common plan hatched between Toomer and Chambers to rob Moscardini.
“He was found three blocks away,” Basinger said.
The Salisbury attorney admitted his client gave inconsistent statements, but he did not conspire with Toomer.
Biernacki argued that Chambers “acted in concert” with Toomer to commit this offense.
“He admits to passive participation. It places him there. Her purse didn’t just fall out, she was clutching it when it was yanked out of her hands,” Biernacki said.
Visiting Superior Court Judge James Hardin Jr. denied the dismissal of charges.
In May, members of the Moscardini family were robbed at gunpoint while having dinner at the back of the family restaurant.
The trial will resume Monday at 9:30 a.m.