VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A 32-year-old man was found guilty of first degree murder after a three-day jury trial in Virginia Beach, according to Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney Colin Stolle.
The jury recommended a 29 year prison sentence for Harold Vincent Cole, Jr., of Virginia Beach, after finding him guilty of murdering 19-year-old Gregory Delong on June 16 of 2016.
Cole, known as “Taliban,” was also found guilty of robbery, use of a firearm and conspiracy in relation to the murder.
Evidence proved that Cole and co-defendant Malik Brown had met Delong at the Carriage House Apartments with a plan to rob him and “scare” him since Cole owed Brown money and Brown was unhappy with the quality of marijuana he was previously purchasing from Delong, according to the Commonwealth’s Attorney.
When they arrived at the complex, they got in the back of Delong’s car. Cole began to strike Delong in the head with a gun while Brown got out of the car to take watch, according to the commonwealth’s attorney.
Cole proceeded to shoot Delong in the head and then he and Brown stole the marijuana before fleeing. They returned to the scene minutes later to wipe down the car and take Delong’s two cell phones, according to the commonwealth’s attorney.
Police were called to the scene hours later after Delong’s body was discovered by another citizen.
Their investigation of Delong’s cell phone records revealed that Brown was the last person Delong contacted before he was found dead. Police also found frequent cell phone communication between Brown and Cole discussing news reports of the murder, according to the commonwealth’s attorney.
Brown and Cole were developed as suspects and arrested separately within a few days of the crime. While being housed at a jail, Cole confessed to another inmate about his involvement in the murder. Another witness testified that Cole attempted to give him the murder weapon, according to the commonwealth’s attorney.
Brown, who was a juvenile at the time of the offense, pleaded guilty to first degree murder, robbery, use of a firearm and conspiracy. He faces up to 18 years in prison when sentenced on Jan. 21, according to the commonwealth’s attorney.
Cole will be formally sentenced on May 7.