Crime

Virginia cashier who gave tracking device to girl won't face jail time

The judge ruled the man's actions were a result of his autism and that, while the behavior was creepy, it didn’t warrant jail time.

Virginia cashier who gave tracking device to girl won't face jail time
Scripps News Norfolk
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A Wegman's grocery store cashier in Virginia who admitted to giving an AirTag to a 7-year-old girl while she and her mother were going through the grocery store's checkout line will not face any jail time, a judge ruled at the Virginia Beach Courthouse on Thursday.

Connor Land, 20, pleaded guilty to attempted use of an electronic tracking device and admitted he realized what he did was wrong. 

Judge James Lewis called this one of the strangest cases he’s seen in 40 years on the bench. 

He ultimately ruled that Land’s actions were a result of his autism and that, while the behavior was creepy, it didn’t warrant jail time right now.

Several witnesses took the stand, including the young girl's mother, who contacted Virginia Beach Police after she discovered the AirTag tracking device mixed in with stickers that were given to her daughter as they left the store. 

She described being terrified when this happened and said the experience had emotionally scarred her family. 

Land testified that he never meant to hurt anyone. He claimed he just wanted to start relationships with women but lacked the ability to do so because of his developmental disability.

Land said his intentions were to find out where the mom lived so he could send her a letter that referred to her as a goddess and offered to do chores for her like giving her foot massages, babysitting and cleaning.

The man claimed he tried to give the letter and money to another woman earlier in the day, but the woman gave it back to him saying she felt uncomfortable.

Land said he was frustrated and tried again with the 7-year-old’s mom, but this time he planned to use the AirTag tracking device to find her.

Cashier accused of using tracking device on girl he met at store
Cashier accused of using tracking device on girl he met at store

Cashier accused of using tracking device on girl he met at store

Police arrested Connor Land and charged him with a misdemeanor count of unauthorized use of an electronic tracking device.

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Another woman, Jenna Gibson, took the stand and said she got a protective order against Land while they were students at Christopher Newport University a few months prior to his arrest at the supermarket.

Gibson said Land violated the protective order when he called her dad. The judge in that case dismissed it on a technicality.

Both women said they were very disappointed by the judge's decision and felt concerned for others.

“I still feel very uncomfortable,” said Gibson. "There was a lot of new information that came out about the case that made it even more egregious to the crimes he committed, and I wish he would’ve been held more accountable than he was." 

Land’s defense attorney explained how he is getting help for compulsion disorder, sexual issues and other mental health problems. Judge Lewis wants him to continue to get treatment.

Sending him to jail would only set him back in the progress he has made over the last six months, Judge Lewis added.

In what’s called a deferred finding, Land will go in front of the judge again in 90 days to ensure he is on track, continuing treatment and therapy and staying away from the witnesses in this case.

This story was originally published by Margaret Kavanagh and Brianna Lanham at Scripps News Norfolk

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