CHESAPEAKE, Va. - Saturday marked Brian Faulcon's birthday. Much of the day involved family, friends and state leaders at a rally at First Baptist Church South Hill in Chesapeake advocating for his freedom as he still sits behind bars.
Many hope to see his freedom restored through a pardon from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam before Northam leaves office in January.
"I believe that will be the best Christmas gift; the best New Year's gift; the best birthday gift to his family, friends and his mother," Brandon Randleman, the rally's organizer said.
Faulcon, a former junior varsity basketball coach, has spent nearly a decade trying to prove he is not the gunman who robbed a pizza delivery woman off Eden Way in 2012. She identified Faulcon as the man who stole $14 from her pocket.
"Here I am, incarcerated for a crime that I didn't commit," Faulcon said. "I pray for her every night. I’m sorry she had to endure what she had to endure, but it was not me."
Faulcon was sentenced to five years in prison in connection with a January 2012 incident in which he was accused of robbing a pizza delivery driver at gunpoint. Faulcon has maintained his innocence.
On Saturday, December 18, civil rights leaders, elected officials, clergy, community leaders and Faulcon's friends and family held a joint press conference and support rally to discuss his case and petition Gov. Northam to immediately pardon him.
Cynthia Faulcon, Brian's mother, told News 3 her son has maintained his innocence from the start.
"This has been a very difficult almost 10 years," Cynthia said. "He’s a very caring guy. He loves his family very much. He’s very devoted, even to friends. He would do anything in the world for you."
A News 3 investigation into court records reveals DNA evidence does not connect Faulcon to the crime, and there are discrepancies between the traumatized victim’s account the night of the robbery and her testimony in court, when she stressed, “I am 100% sure this is the man that robbed me that night.”
In addition, court records reveal a detective with the Chesapeake Police Department lawfully approved the destruction of a surveillance tape in an unsolved 7-Eleven robbery that may have created reasonable doubt in the robbery investigation involving Faulcon.
"The case leaves us with more questions than answers," Randleman said. "With so many questions and a reasonable doubt in this case, it leads us to wonder: Why are we here today?"
Del. Cliff Hayes is a longtime friend of the Faulcon family.
"It’s because of the very, very thorough investigative research that was done by WTKR, the investigative team and that series that you’ve run to make the community aware of what’s going on," Del. Hayes said. "What that has done has pricked the conscious of many people beyond just the immediate family."
Del. Hayes has also been heavily involved pushing a petition for Gov. Northam to pardon Faulcon.
"Here is yet another specific example of a situation of a great person coming from a great family that we believe the evidence just does not add up to where Brian actually is," Del. Hayes said during Saturday's rally.
Branden Smith is one of Faulcon's closest friends and former co-defendant in the case. Smith's charges were dropped before his case ever made it to trial.
"All of our work, right now, looks like it’s paying off," Smith said. "There are not too many people who has the heart like Brian has. Once Brian gets back, it’s just right back to work. We train kids [and] coach kids. That’s really our passion and what we love to do."
"If anybody deserves to be pardoned and released, Brian should be at the top of the list," Smith added.
As for Cynthia Faulcon's message to Gov. Northam -
"Governor, look at the information. Everything that’s been submitted to you in our pardon package clearly points to the fact that Brian is innocent," Cynthia said.
It's a move many hope will make a birthday, holidays and new year even happier.
"We will ask, and we will plead, and we will pray," Cynthia Faulcon said. "We do have some time. We’re praying that he will be home for Christmas, and that he will be able to be with all of his family [and] all of the supporters. It would just be a magnanimous opportunity and time for us to spend with him and to let him know and lavish as much love as we can lavish upon him because he’s been away from us for so long."
Sunday on News 3 at 11, hear from Del. Hayes on the pardoning process and how he wants to use Faulcon's case to bring up other issues to address in the General Assembly. Also, hear from Gov. Northam when News 3 recently asked him about Brian Faulcon's case.