Wilmington man sentenced to 11 years for rash of break-ins; wife faces trial

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David Andrew Cox
David Andrew Cox

A Wilmington man has pleaded guilty to a rash of home break-ins in the Pine Valley area of Wilmington over a period of two years, District Attorney Ben David said.

David Andrew Cox, 44, pleaded guilty Monday in New Hanover County Superior Court to charges of first-degree burglary, conspiracy to commit first-degree burglary, breaking and entering into a motor vehicle, two counts of larceny, three counts of breaking and entering, two counts of conspiracy to commit breaking and entering, robbery with a dangerous weapon, possession of burglary tools, resisting a public officer and assault with a deadly weapon on a government official, according to David.

Cox was charged with breaking into four separate homes between 2013 and 2015, David said.

In November 2013, Cox was arrested by Wilmington police as he exited a section of woods on Windward Drive, two doors down from where a woman had reported hearing noises in her home only minutes prior, David said. When officers searched Cox, they found a pair of earrings and a $5 bill that had been in the victim’s car, which was parked in her garage.

In addition to the stolen items, Cox also possessed a knife, a flashlight, and a walkie-talkie. Detectives found a screen at the victim’s house had been cut, along with other signs of forced entry into the woman’s home.

Cox’s wife and co-defendant in the case – 35-year-old Tina Michelle Murray – was located in a nearby vehicle, on the receiving end of Cox’s walkie-talkie. Other items in her car led officers to believe that the two were working together to commit the burglary on Windward Drive, David said.

Murray pleaded guilty to charges of breaking and entering and larceny in August 2014, for her role in that crime. She was sentenced to 18 months’ supervised probation.

Cox also pleaded guilty to break-ins that occurred on Charles Paine Drive, Robert E. Lee Drive, and Kirby Smith Drive in July 2015, David said.

“One of the victims returned home to find Cox standing inside of her residence. He told the victim that he was in the wrong house and left. She later discovered thousands of dollars worth of her jewelry missing,” David said.

In another case, a concerned citizen reported seeing suspicious behavior by a man wearing a hard hat and a woman driving a truck in that same area. The citizen called in the license plate number to law enforcement. Four days later, the defendant broke into another home on Robert E. Lee Drive.

On July 19, 2015, six days after those offenses, a homeowner on Kirby Smith Drive found Cox inside his residence.

“The homeowner wrestled away a gun that Cox was preparing to steal from the home and a physical altercation ensued,” David said.

Cox escaped the house after threatening the man with a crowbar. Wilmington police arrived on scene to find the victim chasing Cox down the street. As an officer approached him, Cox tossed various burglary tools aside and attempted to open a folding knife. The officer was able to successfully disarm Cox and place him under arrest.

Other officers reportedly found Murray driving a truck just streets away, David said. The truck she was driving was the same truck that was reported by the concerned citizen the week before. Inside the truck, officers found a hard hat, miscellaneous jewelry and beads.

Murray’s charges relating to the July 2015 crimes are set for trial on June 27, David said. She is charged with breaking and entering, larceny, conspiracy to commit breaking and entering, robbery with a dangerous weapon, and possession of burglary tools.

Cox was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Phyllis Gorham to 92-132 months in the N.C. Department of Corrections. Cox was ordered to pay more than $20,000 in restitution. If convicted, Murray would be liable to repay half the restitution, David said.