Sentence in felony firearm possession

Assault, alcohol cases in district court

In a bench trial in Rappahannock County Circuit Court last Thursday (Sept. 3) Judge Jeffrey W. Parker found 43-year-old Clifton resident Paul Wilson Northam guilty of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and sentenced him to probation and community service.

On Jan. 3, Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Deputy Cody Dodson stopped Northam after noticing the rear lights not working on the trailer that Northam was towing. Northam, upon hearing his lights were not working, got out of the truck to check the connection. When Northam opened the door, Dodson noticed the end of a camouflage rifle case showing in the extended-cab area behind the front seat.

On running Northam’s license and registration, he was told by the dispatcher that Northam was a convicted felon — a conviction dating to Northam’s teen years in South Carolina.

As part of the bench trial, Northam’s attorney Peter Hansen summarized his client’s history. “In 1989, when Mr. Northam was 17, he was tried as an adult in South Carolina for breaking and entering”, said Hansen. “While in jail he learned to be a plumber. In the ensuing 30 years, Mr. Northam has held three jobs, one for 18 years” and has steadily moved up the ranks in his company to an executive position.

Hansen told the court that Northam is now married with two children and has had no other “interface with the law in a negative way until now.” In addition, he said, if Northam had been convicted in Virginia instead of South Carolina, his gun rights would have been restored by now.

Parker accepted Commonwealth Attorney Art Goff’s recommendation and sentenced Northam to three years in the penitentiary (all suspended), two years’ supervised probation (one suspended), and 100 hours of community service. “This is a pretty good disposition for you,” said Parker, addressing Northam. “Don’t run afowl of it.”

Sept. 1 district court

In district court on Sept. 1, 42-year-old Ronald Edward Huntington of Amissville pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of assault in an incident that occurred at a private residence July 25. According to the report filed by Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office investigator Shawn Walters, Huntington broke into the bedroom of Dennis Cranston, a friend of Huntington’s mother, chased him around the room and brought him to the floor. He held a knife to Cranston’s neck and threatened murder, according to the complaint, which said Huntington’s mother, Viola Huntington, was able to pull her son away. There were no reported injuries.

Judge J. Gregory Ashwell sentenced Huntington to 12 months of supervised probation, fined him $250, ordered him to attend anger management class and to have no contact with Cranston.

William James Bedortha, II, 32, of Flint Hill pleaded guilty to a first-time DWI. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail (all suspended). His driver’s license was suspended for 12 months, but he can apply for a restricted license for driving to work and other limited uses. He must have an ignition interlock device installed on his vehicle and attend VASAP, the state’s alcohol education program.

Thomas Edward Lee III, 33, of Washington, pleaded guilty to a charge of trespassing after being forbidden. He was sentenced to 12 months in jail (all suspended) and 12 months of supervised probation.

The case of Daniel Webster Ramey, 33, of Sperryville, charged with a third incidence of DWI, was certified to the grand jury to convene next Monday (Sept. 14).

John Michael Willette, 23, of Piney Point, Maryland, was arraigned on a first charge of DWI. His case was continued to Oct. 20.

Jacob Thomas Dart, 22, of Flint Hill, was arraigned on a charge of resisting arrest in an assault and battery incident filed in juvenile and domestic court. His case was continued in district court to Oct. 13.

Eric Jonathan Comer, 42, of Luray, pleaded guilty to driving without an ignition interlock device on his vehicle and was fined $250. The charge stems from Comer pleading guilty in district court on June 9 to a first DWI offense. At that time, he was sentenced to 90 days in jail, all suspended. His license was suspended for 12 months, but he was allowed to apply for a restricted license for limited uses. He was ordered to have an ignition interlock device installed on his vehicle and attend VASAP.

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