Nineteen years ago, Charlottesville was horrified by the brutal assault on Evan Kittredge by assailants who beat, tortured and urinated on him, then left him to die in the trunk of his 1989 Pontiac Grand Prix.
Kittredge survived, and the men who attacked him—Chad DePasquale, then 22, Billy Ray McKethan, who was 18, and Joseph Cane Breeden, then 17—were sentenced to 20 years in prison.
One of those men, Breeden, 36, was arrested March 31 for a break-in at Brown’s market on Avon Street. On March 13, hatchet-wielding, mask-wearing men smashed the store’s front door, jumped over the counter and absconded with cigarettes.
Breeden is charged with breaking and entering with a deadly weapon and petit larceny for stealing cigarettes valued at less than $200, according to court documents. Bond was denied for him April 1 and he’s being held at Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail.
Also arrested was Dwayne Thomas Robinson, 34, who is charged with B&E and larceny-third offense.
The store’s owner, Mike Brown, says he had seen the men in the store before, and he told the Newsplex they both applied for jobs there after the break-in.
“I was hoping someone would recognize them” from the security video, he says, and he heard the two sold the cigarettes on the Downtown Mall. The robbery will cost him around “two grand,” he says.
Back on November 1, 1996, Breeden had been hanging around Lee Park drinking when one of his friends suggested “fag bashing,” he told police in a transcript of the interview. Almost as soon as he’d been read his Miranda rights, Breeden asked police if they’d found Kittredge.
He described how the three had beat and kicked Kittredge, and how DePasquale put a cigarette out on his forehead to obtain Kittredge’s ATM pin number.
The three drove around in his car until it stalled and they abandoned it in a driveway off Berkmar Drive, leaving Kittredge in the trunk for 40 hours when temperatures fell to the 20s.
Judge Jay Swett called it one of the most “heinous” assaults in recent memory when he sentenced the three to 50 years in prison on charges of abduction, malicious wounding and robbery, with 30 years suspended.
Breeden was ordered to have five years supervised probation upon his release from prison, have anger management counseling and another 10 years unsupervised probation. “The court declines to sentence the defendant as a juvenile,” wrote Swett.
He was released from prison September 30, according to the Department of Corrections.
Kittredge suffered broken ribs, a collapsed lung, head wounds, burned skin and hypothermia from his ordeal.
He died in 2006 at age 44 from complications from heart surgery, and had endured health issues such as Hodgkin’s disease, shingles, a bone marrow transplant and epilepsy before the Lee Park encounter, according to a letter from his sister to the court.
A 1985 UVA graduate who worked for the university, Kittredge refused to be defined by the attack. “I’m not going to let them reprogram me,” Kittredge said in a 1998 interview. “If I’m scared, the other guy wins. Emotionally, I guess I’m more careful. But I try to influence other people to keep them going. I don’t walk around with a chip on my shoulder about what happened.”
Breeden’s next appearance in court is May 19.
Joseph Breeden was 17 when he was convicted in the brutal beating of Evan Kittredge, who was left in the trunk of his car for 40 hours.