Johnny Ray Thomas gets sick whenever he eats nectarines, and that, a Montgomery County prosecutor said, shattered his alibi.
Yesterday morning, just before Thomas was to go on trial on a charge of breaking into a Silver Spring video store, the 32-year-old Bladensburg man pleaded guilty.
Last August, shortly after someone broke into Video Showcase, at 43 Randolph Rd. and took three video recorders and a television set, a man appeared at a nearby all-night gas station and struck up a conversation with the attendant.
The stranger mentioned that he was from Shreveport, La., and currently worked in the District as an auto mechanic for Pepco. In the course of their conversation, the attendant offered the man a nectarine, but the stranger refused, saying he couldn't eat nectarines because they made him sick.
After learning of the burglary, police stopped at the station and interviewed the attendant. He told them about the stranger from Shreveport who couldn't eat nectarines. Later that night, police recovered the stolen goods from a car abandoned by its driver after police chased it for speeding. Police traced the car to Thomas, who came to the Silver Spring police station for an interview.
Thomas, who told police he was originally from Shreveport, denied he had been at the gas station. He said he had spent the night in Crofton and that his car had been stolen, Prosecutor Joe Fitzpatrick said.
Then officer John Paul Quinn pulled a nectarine from his desk drawer and offered it to the suspect. Thomas refused. Nectarines made him sick, he said.
Quinn knew he had his man.
"It was a case I was really looking forward to trying," Fitzpatrick said after Thomas pleaded guilty.
Thomas, who is free on bond, will be sentenced Oct. 10. He faces up to 10 years in prison.