Court: Burglary, drugs, reckless shooting

A Rappahannock County Circuit Court grand jury handed down two indictments Monday (Nov. 14).

Derek Briggs Murray, 28, of Winchester, was indicted on a charge of breaking and entering. According to the criminal complaint filed by Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Lt. Jason Romero, Murray broke into the Hope Hill Baptist Church in Castleton on Sept. 16, 2015.

“Entry was gained through locked doors, and food items from within the church were consumed,” reads the complaint. “Remnants of those food items were left behind by the suspect(s) and subsequently tested for DNA.” Comparison of the found sample of DNA to others at the Virginia DNA Data Bank “yielded a profile consistent with the accused.”

The case is continued to Dec. 15 for further disposition.

Susan Michelle Altenhein, 48, of Marshall, was indicted on a charge of possession of a controlled substance. On Nov. 18, 2015, Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Deputy W. C. Ubben found a glass smoking device with a residue in Altenhein’s possession. According to the criminal complaint, the Virginia Department of Forensic Science certified that the residue was a controlled substance. The case was continued to Dec. 15.

In district court on Tuesday (Nov.15), Chester Gap residents Christina A Hutcherson and Samuel Darnel Wilson pleaded no contest to reckless handling of a firearm arising from an Aug. 27 incident. On that date, Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Deputy Cody Dodson, responding to a complaint of gunshots and wounding, found Wilson and Hutcherson target practicing 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 a neighbor in the leg, leaving a red mark. Wilson did not realize his neighbor had been shot.

When their case was first called, they were not present, but Court Clerk Pat Davis reported that they called to say they had been in an accident the night before and would be late. Indeed, when they arrived, they were visibly injured — Wilson limping severely and Hutcherson with one arm in a sling.

They were tried together but with separate attorneys before Judge J. Gregory Ashwell. Accepting the recommendations of Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff, Ashwell sentenced Hutcherson to pay a $1,000 fine (suspending $750) and spend 60 days in jail (all suspended on the condition of 12 months of good behavior). She was ordered to complete a firearms safety course approved by the National Rifle Association, write a letter of apology to the victim and pay $250 restitution.

Wilson’s sentence was much the same, except his jail sentence was for 180 days, with 160 days suspended. He will be allowed to serve the remaining time on weekends. He must report for the first weekend by 8 p.m. this Friday (Nov. 18). According to his lawyer, Kirk Milam, Wilson received jail time because he was convicted previously on a similar charge.

Before he was sentenced, Wilson addressed the court. “I never meant to harm anyone,” he said and turned to apologize to the victim who was present in court. Addressing Ashwell, Wilson, holding back tears, said, “I take my punishment as a man and I thank you for your time, patience and service.”

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About Patty Hardee 143 Articles
Writer, consultant, actor, director, recovering stand-up comic, Patty covers the county’s courts and other topics of interest for Rappahannock News. She lives with her grape-growing husband Bill Freitag in Flint Hill.