Cousins acquitted in home invasion

Posted: March 18, 2014

The Winchester Star

HundelGanthier
James Ganthier

WINCHESTER — A local man and his Maryland cousin were acquitted of all charges Monday related to a local home invasion reported last April.

James Ganthier, 30, of Winchester, and Hundel Ganthier, 35, broke down in tears when seven not guilty verdicts were read around 7:30 p.m. in Winchester Circuit Court.

James Ganthier — who was represented by J. David Black — was charged with breaking and entering, assault and battery and abduction. Hundel Ganthier — who was represented by James P. Bohnaker — was charged with breaking and entering while armed, assault and battery, abduction and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Both emotionally thanked the jury as they were released. Deliberations took about an hour.

The Ganthiers have been incarcerated since May 8, when they turned themselves in at the Timbrook Public Safety Center in Winchester.

They were alleged to have been involved in a home invasion that reportedly occurred at about 6 p.m. April 21 in the 600 block of Watson Avenue.

According to a criminal complaint filed in the case, the two men allegedly assaulted Candace Jackson after forcing their way into her aunt’s house.

She reported that Hundel Ganthier accused her of stealing from him and then grabbed her and started to pull her out of the home.

Jackson accused him of exposing a black handgun in his waistband several times during the struggle and threatening to use it, the complaint states.

Both Ganthiers were said in the complaint to have pulled Jackson into the front yard of the residence, before allegedly striking her several times.

Bohnaker called Jackson — who was five months pregnant, in jail and dressed in an orange jumpsuit — to the stand Monday and she now says the incident “never happened.”

“I never called the police,” she said. “I talked to them, but don’t remember what I said to them.”

Her testimony came after three witnesses for the commonwealth, who were in the home at the time of the alleged invasion, gave a different account of what happened.

They all reiterated, generally, what was reported in the criminal complaint — although with some inconsistencies in detail.

All also, however, testified that they didn’t feel threatened by the Ganthiers when they allegedly barged in the home demanding that no one leave or call anyone.

Tiffany Campbell, a cousin to Jackson who was in the home at the time, said she called her uncle despite orders not to use her phone.

She also said two children and a woman who was at the home selling cosmetics left the home using the back door.

Hundel Ganthier testified that the witnesses were making up the story to try and prevent him and his cousin from ever going back to the home again — which he claimed they wouldn’t do.

He said his cousin never entered the home, and that he knocked on the door and asked politely to speak with Jackson — who allegedly slept with him and then stole about $900 cash (from a tax refund) out of his pockets while he napped.

He added that he spoke with Jackson, but never laid a hand on her, and ultimately decided to let it go and go back to Maryland.

In closing arguments, Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Marc Abrams told jurors to look at the most credible witnesses — the women in the home at the time of the alleged invasion.

Abrams, Black and Bohnaker all agreed that Jackson should have been charged for theft stemming from the incident. Abrams added, however, that the theft wasn’t reported until after the alleged invasion.

“I’ll tell you who the guilty party is here, it’s Candace Jackson,” Black said. “This didn’t sound like a home invasion to me — nobody that testified for the commonwealth today was afraid of these two.”

Bohnaker added that the story of the home invasion was not a logical one, especially if Hundel Ganthier was believed to have had a gun and no one was afraid of him.

Black said James Ganthier was very pleased with the outcome of the case, and Bohnaker added that he was too.

— Contact Melissa Boughton at mboughton@winchesterstar.com