Deputy assault earns man 18 months in jail

Among the cases in Rappahannock County courts over the last week was the sentencing of 59-year-old Michael Lawrence Nelson of Boston, who will spend a year and a half in jail for assaulting two sheriff’s deputies last November.

General District Court Judge J. Gregory Ashwell also appointed a public defender and set a hearing date for Zachary Clay Pilkins, 21, of Amissville, who is charged with eluding police, among other offenses.

State Trooper Brandon Johnson’s criminal complaint against Pilkins said the trooper clocked a 2000 Mercury Cougar belonging to Pilkins speeding on U.S. 211 near Battle Mountain Road on July 29. Johnson’s complaint said he gave chase but lost sight of the vehicle, later finding it parked on property belonging to Thierry Joseph Liverman. The trooper took no action since he couldn’t prove who’d been driving the car.

But Pilkins reported his car stolen later that day, according to the complaint, and told police his friend’s father had given him a ride to work that day. When asked by police, the complaint reported, the father denied having seen Pilkins that day. When they asked his son, Ethan Newport, Newport told investigators he was the passenger in the vehicle on July 29, and that it was driven by Pilkins. Pilkins’ hearing on the allegations of felony eluding, reckless driving and filing a false police report is Oct. 2.

At his sentencing hearing in Circuit Court Aug. 17, Nelson (who has been in Rappahannock Jail since the Nov. 23 incident) said he had spent a few hours drinking that day while “belatedly celebrating [his] birthday.” Afterwards he arrived at his mother’s house and was having an argument with her after she accused him of being lazy. During the argument, Nelson said, his sister tried to call her mother several times but Nelson kept hanging up the phone. She called 911.

Nelson said he then went to bed and was awakened later by two sheriff’s deputies responding to his sister’s call. According to Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff, Nelson became belligerent and threatened to kill the deputies. While being cuffed, he managed to kick one of the deputies in the groin and scratch the other.

“We have to send a message to people that these officers are to be treated with respect,” Goff told Judge Thomas A. Fortcourt, who agreed and sentenced Nelson to three years on the felony charge (with 18 months suspended) and 12 months for the misdemeanor charge (to run concurrently). After release, Nelson will be on probation for two years.

Thirty-nine-year-old Melissa Ann Wright was sentenced to three years in prison (all of it suspended) and a two-year supervised probation period. Wright was hired as a house cleaner last year by John R. Bourgeois of Hunters Road, from whom she stole approximately 30 pieces of sterling silver and sold it for around $1,300. According to Bourgeois, who testified at the sentencing hearing, the silver is valued at $15,000. Wright will have to pay some restitution to Bourgeois as part of her sentence, Fortcourt said; the exact amount will be decided in court Sept. 9.

Sandra Marlene Weaver, 39, of Viewtown Road, was found guilty of violating her parole in early July. She was sentenced to six months in jail, beginning immediately.