Guilty pleas adding up in Grand View case

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 MacArthur won’t be sentenced until May 14, Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff recommended that he serve three years and six months in a local jail – an alternative to “hard time” in a state penitentiary – in exchange for his testimony against the other three 18-year-old defendants in the case. As part of the terms of the sentencing recommendation in the plea agreement, MacArthur might also be eligible for work-release.

In circuit court this Monday (Feb. 27), the case against Julious Ceasar Lucas of Boston – seven charges stemming from the Grand View arson – was continued to March 27 by Judge Herman A. Whisenant Jr. Goff told the court that more indictments against Lucas, charges unrelated to the Grand View case, were due to be handed down by the grand jury that meets March 12.

In the same courtroom this morning (Thursday, March 1), Lucas’ younger brother, Erick Xavier Rodriguez of Boston, will likely plead guilty to the seven arson-related charges he faces, Goff said.

Benjamin Hale of Castleton, being held at the Culpeper County Jail on charges that include those related to the August arson case, stood before the court this Tuesday (Feb. 28), facing three unrelated felony breaking-and-entering and larceny cases related to the theft of items on a different occasion from Rowland’s house and from the elementary school last June. Dressed in a short-sleeved black-and-white jail jumpsuit, Hale waived a jury hearing and will stand trial for those charges April 24, the same day of his scheduled arson trial.

Goff said that he entered into a plea agreement with MacArthur because the statements he made to police after being tracked down during the early-morning Aug. 20 manhunt following the arson were closest to what investigators have come to believe is the truth. Deals were not offered to the three others, Goff said.

Guilty plea likely in Hilley rape case

Also Monday in circuit court, Goff told Judge Whisenant that he had reached a plea agreement earlier that morning with 21-year-old Travis Edward Hilley of Washington, facing a rape charge and child pornography charges but that the agreement had not yet been put into writing. The case was continued until March 7 (his scheduled trial date), when the plea is expected.

According to a complaint filed by Virginia State Police special agent Mike Jones, Hilley had sexual relations with a woman last Sept. 30, “when such act was accomplished through the use of the victim’s mental incapacity or physical helplessness.” And on Feb. 7, Hilley was arraigned in district court on two new felony charges – possession of child pornography and reproducing child pornography, the results, authorities said, of an ongoing investigation. According to a Jan. 19 criminal complaint: On Oct. 11, Jones seized a laptop during the rape investigation, which was searched Dec. 9. “At that time a movie file depicting a child (estimated 9- or 10-year-old female) performing a sex act with an identified male was recovered.