- The Washington Times - Friday, November 18, 2005

LEESBURG, Va. — The young woman accused of being the “cell-phone bandit” told a judge yesterday that she will get free legal help.

Candice Rose Martinez, 19, is charged in four Northern Virginia bank robberies. In surveillance video, the robber is seen chatting on a cell phone while the teller fills a box with cash as instructed.

At a hearing yesterday in Loudoun County General District Court, Miss Martinez announced that the Fairfax law firm of Davis and Lindner agreed to represent her on charges stemming from the Nov. 4 robbery of an Ashburn, Va., bank.

“They’re working my case pro bono,” Miss Martinez told Judge Dean S. Worcester, who scheduled a preliminary hearing for Jan. 17.

Attorney Michael Lindner told the Associated Press that his firm has “traditionally done lots of pro bono criminal defense work” and would defend Miss Martinez in the Loudoun case, as well as any federal charges that could be brought.

Miss Martinez appeared via a closed-circuit video hookup between the county’s jail and the nearby courthouse. The Ashburn robbery was the only one in which a weapon was displayed.

Miss Martinez answered the judge’s questions politely during the brief hearing. She also asked him if she was still being held without bond and learned that a county magistrate already had ordered her continued detention.

Where Miss Martinez will stand trial remains to be determined. Federal prosecutors want to try her in all four robberies and have persuaded Fairfax County to forgo prosecuting an Oct. 12 robbery in Vienna and an Oct. 22 robbery in Springfield. Prince William County officials have not said when they might pursue charges related to an Oct. 21 Manassas robbery.

Miss Martinez’s boyfriend, Dave C. Williams, 19, already faces federal prosecution and appeared yesterday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, where a judge ruled there is sufficient evidence for the case to move forward.

FBI Special Agent Timothy Pak testified that of the $48,000 taken during the four robberies, $15,000 has not been recovered. That led the judge to order Mr. Williams held until trial.

Mr. Pak also told the court that Mr. Williams admitted driving the getaway car in all four cases, and that he told the FBI he had been planning to reunite with Miss Martinez and flee to Texas or New Mexico. The defense took issue with that.

“If he wanted to hightail it to New Mexico or some other locations he could have. He didn’t do that,” attorney Michael Devine told the judge in an unsuccessful argument for bail.

Outside the courtroom, shocked friends and relatives insisted that Mr. Williams had never been in trouble.

“He just met this girl [Miss Martinez] two months ago,” said Deo Smith, Mr. Williams’ mother. “When I met Candice she was always very nice. I was happy he was involved with her.”

Jacob Adelman and Matt Barakat in Alexandria, and Michael Kahn in Washington contributed to this report.

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