Gun, alcohol, speeding cases in court

Two Chester Gap residents were arraigned in Rappahannock County District Court Tuesday (Sept. 20) on charges of reckless handling of a firearm.

Responding to a complaint of gunshots and wounding from a Chester Gap resident on Aug. 27, Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Deputy Cody Dodson found Samuel Darnell Wilson and Christina Hutcherson, doing target practice in their yard.

According to Dodson’s complaint, Wilson, 38, was teaching Hutcherson, 28, how to shoot his pistol. The two were using a piece of plywood against a pile of firewood for target practice, but shooting in the direction of houses. Apparently, a shot went astray and hit the neighbor in the leg, leaving a red mark. Wilson did not realize his neighbor had been shot.

Judge Peter Thomas Hansen ordered them to be tried together, but assigned them each a separate public defender. The case is continued to Nov. 15.

Paul B. Stewart of Culpeper, pleaded guilty to a first instance of DWI with a blood alcohol level greater than .20 percent. Hansen sentenced him to 90 days in jail, but suspended 88 days, but warned Stewart, “You must report sober and free of intoxicants. Sometimes friends and family members want to see someone off  ‘in style,’ ’’ said Hansen. He explained that to report to jail having taken alcohol or drugs would be violation of the terms and conditions of his plea agreement.

Stewart was also sentenced to one year of supervised probation and his license was suspended for a year. He may apply for restricted license for certain limited uses, must have an ignition interlock device installed on his vehicle and must complete the state’s alcohol awareness program, VASAP.

Speeder loses appeal in jury trial

Andrew John Kratly, 38, of Reva, was found guilty of speeding after a jury trial in Rappahannock County Circuit Court last Tuesday (Sept. 20). On March 26, Kratly was stopped and charged with driving his motorcycle at 70 mph in a 55 mph zone. (In district court April 19, he pleaded not guilty but was found guilty by the court. He subsequently appealed the ruling and requested a jury trial.)

The morning of the trial, Kratly, who had decided to forego an attorney and defend himself, moved to dismiss the charge.

“Do you have a written motion?” Judge Herman A. Whisenant asked. “The motion can’t be made orally. The purpose is to give the court and other attorneys the reasons for the motion. Otherwise I have no basis for [dismissal].”

At that, Kratly, with 19 potential subpoenaed jurors waiting in a holding room, told the court he would just pay the ticket. Whisenant explained that if Kratly conceded now, he would have to pay court costs, including the cost of the jury, “because you had the jury brought in and caused them to miss work.” He said Kratly would also have to pay for the jury if he lost his appeal. Kratly then decided, “I may as well go through with it.”

A jury was selected and sworn in. After opening statements, Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff called Virginia State Police Trooper S. J. Riddle as a witness. Riddle testified to clocking Kratly on U.S. 211 at 70 mph heading westbound near Richmond Road. Kratly was riding his motorcycle at the lead of several other riders. Riddle told the court that he followed Kratly, expecting him to pull over at the parking area at Massies Corner. Instead, he said, Kratly went past Massies Corner and stopped some distance beyond.

Kratly later testified that he thought Riddle was after another biker who had passed Kratly. He also claimed not to know the speed limit on the highway, despite living in area.

In just over an hour, the jury found Kratly guilty. He was ordered to pay a $150 fine for the offense and $621 in court costs.

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