A convicted "serial burglar" in Louisa County could spend the rest of his life behind bars. Markus Houchens, 25, pleaded guilty to six counts of burglary Thursday, but his story doesn't end there.
Houchens also tried to get witnesses to lie on his behalf, and we have a letter he wrote detailing a plan he calls "genius".
In September and October of 2010, Houchens went on a crime spree in Louisa, Fluvanna and Albemarle counties, where he burglarized homes and stole thousands of dollars of property.
Carter Johnson with the Albemarle County Police Department said, "We're talking about a lot of property, money, firearms, weapons, electronics, precious metals. A lot of materials taken from homes, so it was a very serious crime."
Houchens was arrested after police identified him from a pawn shop video, selling some of the stolen items. He refused to plead guilty, and before his trial, officers got a tip that he was trying to convince witnesses to lie for him in court.
"The detective working the case became aware that Mr. Houchens was trying to have family members lie on his behalf, and certainly when that information became known to us, we notified the proper officials and made sure that that was not a factor in the trial," Johnson said.
When Houchens' witnesses arrived to testify at his trial, many of them were arrested for conspiracy to commit perjury. At the same time, officers from all three jurisdictions executed search warrants on the homes of the witnesses.
"We all had the same goal," said Johnson. "We all wanted this individual off the streets, and so we're very pleased with the way we worked together."
The officers discovered numerous letters from Houchens, including one telling witnesses what to say to discredit the commonwealth's case and create an alibi for himself.
In part of a letter to his girlfriend, Houchens says, "I really don't want you involved, but now that you already are, it's best for me in my defense." He manufactures an alibi for himself, telling his girlfriend to memorize it, and reminding her to say she "never witnessed me with a gun."
At one point, Houchens pats himself on the back, calling his plan "genius". With Thursday's guilty plea, Houchens faces four life sentences and up to 125 years in prison.
Click here to read the letter Houchens wrote to his girlfriend that includes his plan for a fabricated alibi.
Louisa County Press Release
Serial Burglar Convicted and Faces 4 Life Sentences in Prison
- Defendant's plan to have girlfriend and family lie in court and escape from jail foiled and he finally pleas guilty. –
Louisa Commonwealth's Attorney Rusty McGuire announced the conviction of Markus Houchens 25, on six counts of burglary (four whiled armed with a deadly weapon), four counts grand larceny and five counts of property damage.
In September – October 2010, Houchens went on a crime spree in Louisa, Fluvanna and Albemarle Counties. He burglarized numerous homes and stole thousands of dollars of property to include firearms and destroyed doors when he forcibly entered the homes. He then sold the items to friends and pawn shops in the region. Law enforcement identified him when they saw him on a pawn shop video selling some of the stolen items.
He refused to plea guilty even though he was on video tape and his charges were set for trial in Louisa first. As Louisa prepared for his jury trial, a Detective from Albemarle received information the Defendant was soliciting others to lie on his behalf in court. All of his witnesses arrived at the Louisa courthouse on December 12, 2011 expecting to testify at his trial.
Instead many of his witnesses were arrested for conspiracy to commit perjury and at the same time officers from all three jurisdictions executed search warrants on the homes of the witnesses. The officers discovered numerous letters from the defendant telling the witnesses exactly what to say to discredit the Commonwealth's witnesses and create an alibi for himself.
His trial was continued and after he realized what happened to his witnesses, he attempted to escape from the Central Virginia Regional Jail.
The success on this case is the collective work of the Louisa County Sheriff's Office, the Fluvanna Sheriff's Office, the Albemarle Police Department and the Offices of the Commonwealth Attorneys for Albemarle, Fluvanna and Louisa.
McGuire said "this is the worst case of trying to commit fraud on the criminal justice system. We are fortunate great detectives foiled his plans to escape and lie to the court."
Houchens faces four life sentences and up to 125 years in prison when he will be sentenced on November 1, 2012.