Crime & Courts

Crime and Courts for July 12

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July 12
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Two more sentenced in Grand View Arson; four indictments handed down by Rappahannock County Circuit Court grand jury.
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Rappahannock reporter sentenced on drug charge

Alex Sharp VIII, 23, a frequent Rappahannock News freelance contributor and then full-time reporter starting last August, pleaded guilty to a felony drug charge last Thursday (July 5) in Rockingham County Circuit Court.
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Letter: Thanks for a great year, and keep in touch . . .

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July 12

To the Rappahannock County community that has raised me as a son and loved me as a brother, I sincerely apologize for my actions. And I am sorry for leaving you so abruptly after such a wonderful year as your reporter at the Rappahannock News.
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Editorial: Everything is copy

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July 12

“Copy” is the newspaperman’s term of art for the words that come together to make a compelling story. And for the headline “Everything is copy,” I’m indebted to Nora Ephron, the essayist, screenwriter and director (perhaps best known for “Heartburn” and “Sleepless in Seattle”) who passed away recently.
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Motorcyclist pleads guilty in October high-speed chase

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July 5

A Woodbridge man pleaded guilty in Rappahhanock County Circuit Court last week to leading police on a dangerous chase through leaf-season traffic last October on U.S. 211, a chase in which a state trooper pursued two motorcycles at speeds of 125 to 140 mph, one of them for more than 20 miles. Commonwealth’s Attorney...
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No jail time but $65K owed by coin embezzler

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June 28
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Thirty-seven-year-old Stuart Williams Kasin of Charlotte, N.C., will not serve jail time for embezzlement involving a locally owned coin collection. He was instead handed a five-year suspended prison sentence, five years of probation and must pay $65,238 in restitution.
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Truck’s shortcut cuts power

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June 28

Detour signs forbidding commercial truck traffic from Sperryville’s Main Street while the U.S. 522 bridge is under construction were missed or ignored early Friday by a tractor trailer operator, whose failed, illegal right turn from Main Street onto eastbound U.S. 211 tied up traffic and turned off power to the village for about an...
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Letter: Drinking, driving — astonishing

The June 10 edition of the Rappahannock News contained a story that described how Heather Ann Dibble of Warrenton was convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) after a breathalyzer test showed her blood alcohol content was in excess of .08 percent (the per se limit that defines intoxication). The astonishing part lies not in the actions of the...
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Additional charges in starvation case

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June 21
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A Castleton couple, one of whom is charged with attempted capital murder for what authorities say was an attempt to starve to death one of their two children, now faces a felony charge of cruelty to a child, according to the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office.
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Drug, theft cases fill Circuit Court docket

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June 21

In Rappahannock County Circuit Court June 7, Judge Jeffrey Parker set June 26 as the next court appearance by James Daniel Wines, 28, and July 1 for Ashleigh Renee Baldwin, 22. The two Chester Gap residents are charged with five counts of possession of schedule II drugs and a child abuse charge. Wines is...
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Last arsonist pleads in Grand View case

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June 14
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The final suspect in the Grand View arson case, 20-year-old Julious Caesar Lucas of Boston, pleaded guilty to 10 charges in Rappahannock Circuit Court Friday.
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High-speed chase leads to a 21-month sentence

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June 14
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A high-speed chase, stolen weapons, rape and assault on a VDOT worker – last Thursday (June 7) was an eye-opening day in Rappahannock County Circuit Court. The crime wave that former Commonwealth’s Attorney Peter Luke described before passing the torch to Art Goff continues.
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Two charged in alleged starvation of child

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June 14
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A Castleton couple is being held in the Rappahannock Jail on charges of child abuse, after at least one of them allegedly attempted to starve their two-month-old baby to death.
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Failed breath test equals DUI conviction

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June 7
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Judge J. Gregory Ashwell pointed out to a young defendant in a DUI case that drivers in Virginia are not required to submit to field sobriety tests, including the roadside breathalyzer. If they do, however, the results can be damaging.
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Dodson sentenced to 60 days

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May 24
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In a highly publicized case of betrayal that took unexpected turns – the repeated misappropriation of funds from a school nonprofit made public in February, a plea bargain that included a $25,000 restitution payment rejected by a judge in May – the end was as compelling as the beginning.
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Judge rejects Dodson plea deal

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Amy Grigsby Dodson of Sperryville stood tearfully before Rappahannock County Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey W. Parker on Monday (May 14), as he rejected the plea agreement the commonwealth and her defense had worked out, giving her a week to decide whether to pursue the case with him or start over with another judge.
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Teen goes undercover to nab sellers

Capital News Service

Jessica Wood understands better than most how easy it is for minors to purchase alcohol and tobacco in Virginia. When she was 15, she had an unusual part-time job – helping undercover agents bust retailers who sell such products to minors.
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Grand jury indicts eight on 43 charges

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Grand jury indicts 43; Sheriff Smith warns of increase in area thefts.
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Virginia ignores marijuana reform proposals

Capital News Service

Virginia treats marijuana possession more harshly than many other states, handing down years-long prison sentences to people arrested with small amounts of the substance; legislators in Richmond this year showed no interest in changing those laws.
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Out of town on a rail

From the Bekins website: "Since 1891, Bekins has been providing our customers with the best value and service. No other van line has more experience than Bekins."

Trucks should not be in Sperryville while the U.S. 211 bridge is being rebuilt. How you and your camera/phone can help stamp out commercial truck-driver illiteracy and make the village, and its guardrails, safe again.
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Benkelman apologizes, will serve at least 27 years in jail

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After 10 months in the local jail on charges of possessing child pornography and molesting two young boys, 48-year-old James Carlton Benkelman of Amissville made a tearful apology in Rappahhannock County Circuit Court before he was sentenced.
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Letter: ‘No’ to legalization of marijuana

This is in response to the question “Legalize marijuana?” that was the title of your April 12 editorial. Contrary to the implication of the editorial, opposition to legalization of marijuana is bipartisan. Neither Republican nor Democratic administrations have supported its legalization due to numerous scientific-based studies having shown that marijuana is a harmful drug...
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Guilty pleas entered by 3rd arson defendant

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April 26
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Hale pleads guilty, date set for animal cruelty trial, and more from Tuesday's Circuit Court calendar.
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Judge finds Deal incompetent for trial

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By Eric KambachFauquier Times-Democrat A mental examination of 57-year-old Judy Kay Deal of Amissville has found her incompetent to stand trial for the alleged murder of her husband in November. In a rescheduled hearing Tuesday afternoon, Deal appeared before Judge Jeffery W. Parker in Fauquier County Circuit Court for the results of a competency...
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Editorial: Legalize marijuana?

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April 12
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Drug use among young people is not an issue unique to Rappahannock County. But based upon the ever-growing volume of drug arrests and convictions, as regularly reported in the paper, it is an issue that needs discussing. Part of that discussion should include specifically marijuana use – and whether it should be legalized. If...
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40 arrests made in child pornography investigation

Capital News Service

Twenty people have been arrested in Virginia and 20 others elsewhere in an undercover investigation targeting online child predators and child pornographers, officials announced today.
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Grand View arson defendants facing new charges

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March 29
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Benjamin Thomas Hale of Castleton and Julious Caeser Lucas of Boston appeared in Rappahannock Circuit Court on Tuesday.
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Lawmaker wants to outlaw designer drug 25i

Capital News Service

A state legislator is asking Gov. Bob McDonnell to add the designer drug 25i to the list of chemical compounds that would be outlawed under a bill recently passed by the General Assembly.
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Second arsonist pleads

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March 22
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So far, two of the four teenage defendants in the Grand View arson case – Cameron MacArthur and Erick Rodriguez – have pleaded guilty to charges related to burning down the home of William Rowland last summer, causing an estimated $300,000 in damage. Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff said this week that he expects 18-year-old...
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Ex-treasurer pleads guilty to misusing RCSSA funds

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March 15
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The former treasurer of the Rappahannock County Schools Sports Association (RCSSA) pleaded guilty to seven felonies and one misdemeanor in circuit court Monday (March 12) related to the embezzlement of funds from a nonprofit organization.
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‘Cat murder’ case sent to grand jury

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March 8
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Following a preliminary hearing in Rappahannock County District Court on Tuesday (March 6), Judge J. Gregory Ashwell certified a felony animal cruelty charge against 26-year-old Anthony Robert Ahrens to the grand jury that meets next week.
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Guilty pleas adding up in Grand View case

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March 1

Eighteen-year-old Cameron MacArthur of Amissville pleaded guilty to five felonies and two misdemeanors in Rappahannock County Circuit Court Feb. 16 – arson and breaking and entering charges that emerged last Aug. 20 when four teenagers allegedly burned down William Rowland’s weekend cabin on Grand View Road, reportedly to erase evidence of the break-in. Though...
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Sports fund case leads to search in Sperryville

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Feb. 23
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After a significant amount of money was reported missing from the Rappahannock County Schools Sports Association (RCSSA) bank account, investigators earlier this month obtained a warrant to search the Sperryville home of the former RCSSA treasurer.
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Letter: RCSSA’s statement to the community

While we’ve been instructed to say “no comment” in regards to the alleged embezzlement of funds reported in the Feb. 16 edition of the Rappahannock News, the current members of the Rappahannock County School Sports Association (RCSSA) want the community to know that we are working with the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office to complete...
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Letter: ‘Journalistic equivalent of a shot to the head’

Only a few months ago, the Rappahannock News shot itself in the foot by publishing an inflammatory and incorrect letter to the editor which unjustly attacked a candidate who was running for election to the school board. Despite subsequent online and printed apologies from both the letter writer and the newspaper, damage was done...
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Benkelman pleads guilty to sex charges

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Feb. 16

Forty-eight-year-old arborist James Carlton Benkelman of Amissville pleaded guilty to 11 charges of possessing and reproducing child pornography in circuit court Monday (Feb. 13), and will likely be sentenced to 101 years in prison. The former Rappahannock Lakes resident, described by a  neighbor shortly after his July 1 arrest as “an asset to our...
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School sports funds missing

By Rappahannock News staff Sheriff’s Office investigators are looking into alleged embezzlement of funds from two nonprofit school sports organizations, according to Rappahannock County Sheriff Connie C. Smith. Smith said Tuesday that thousands of dollars are missing from accounts managed by the Rappahannock County Schools Sports Association (RCSSA) and the Rappahannock Youth Basketball League....
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More marijuana charges reduced

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More felony charges of marijuana growing downgraded in Rappahannock County Circuit Court to misdemeanor possession charges in exchange for guilty pleas.
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By 2014, ‘jail’ will mean a trip north

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By summer 2014, the Rappahannock County Jail – one of the oldest operating jails in the state – will be decommissioned, and county inmates will instead serve time in a much larger regional jail in Warren County with 375-bed capacity and a decidedly different character.
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Benkelman will plead guilty

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Amissville man facing numerous felony charges of molesting children and possessing child pornography is expected to plead guilty, as is at least one 18-year-old held in Grand View Road arson case.
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