Benjamin Thomas Hale of Castleton and Julious Caeser Lucas of Boston – two 18-year-olds awaiting trial on seven charges stemming from an Aug. 20 fire that consumed the Grand View Road home of weekender William Rowland, and earlier thefts from Rowland’s house and the elementary school – appeared in Rappahannock Circuit Court on Tuesday (March 27) on two felony charges of unauthorized use of a credit card.
According to Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff, the two allegedly made two illegal credit card transactions in the first week of August (just weeks before the Grand View arson).
Hale’s next hearing date on the two charges is April 24, when he is scheduled for jury trials for the arson case and the elementary school theft case – eight felonies and two misdemeanors. Lucas’ hearing on the credit card fraud charges is May 7; his jury trial in the arson and elementary school theft was also continued to that date. After court Tuesday, Goff said the trials will likely need to be split into three separate dates.
“At this point I’m not going to comment because those [credit card] cases have not been set for trial; the credit card thing is completely separate from those other charges,” Goff said, helping to sort out the three sets of offenses against Lucas and Hale. “One set of charges involves break-ins and theft at the elementary school and at Rowland’s home, and there’s the Rowland arson, and then we had the charges involving the unauthorized use of a credit card . . . You need to keep a roster on some of these guys.”
Fifty-two-year-old Jeffrey Loyd Kelly of Amissville stood before Circuit Court Chief Judge Thomas D. Horne last month (Feb. 28) in a pinstriped jail jumpsuit and leg shackles. He pleaded guilty to his fourth offense of driving under the influence, and was sentenced to five years in prison with all but one year suspended.
Goff said in court that on April 6, 2011 in Amissville, Kelly was on a private road when he backed into a neighbor’s pool. The prosecutor said that the homeowner reported to local police that an intoxicated person had backed into her deck and pool. Former Deputy Nick White (now with the Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office) responded, Goff said, and reported finding Kelly in his vehicle, smelling of alcohol. White said that the man would not exit his vehicle and became combative, the prosecutor said, and refused to submit to any sobriety tests. Goff added that Kelly had been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol three previous times in the last 10 years.
Judge Horne asked Kelly if he had anything to say to the court before it finds him guilty of the charge.
“I’m very sorry that it happened, and it won’t happen again,” Kelly said. “I promise you that it won’t ever happen again.”
Before accepting Kelly’s guilty plea, Horne described a recent, similar but unrelated fourth-offense DUI case he presided over in Loudoun County, where the defendant was driving a stolen automobile down Route 9 toward West Virginia, when a patrolman with the Loudoun County Police fell in behind the suspicious vehicle. Horne said the defendant then raced to the West Virginia line to evade the policeman, whose jurisdiction ended at the border. This defendant had been convicted of driving under the influence several times before, Horne added.
When the defendant crossed into West Virginia, Horne said, the patrolman had to turn off his lights, slow down and disengage. Shortly after crossing into West Virginia, the judge said that the defendant crossed the center yellow line on Route 9 – which is known as a dangerous road – and hit four cars, killing one person and injuring two more. The defendant can no longer walk as a result of the accident, “because he drank, because he drove, because he wouldn’t listen.”
Horne recalled that before he sentenced the man to 10 years of active time, he said: “You didn’t listen. You’ve been in trouble for the same crime over and over again and did not change your behavior. And now, not only have you killed someone, but you can no longer walk.”
“Sometimes punishment is just the right thing,” Horne said next to Kelly, accepting his guilty plea. “Punishment creates closure in people’s lives . . . Don’t let it happen again, ever . . . You need to do some planning. There’s something for you to do out there.”
Kelly responded: “Well I’ve thought about helping younger kids when I get out. I’ve been talking to the young people in here [in the Rappahannock Jail] and teaching them that if they keep messing around like a clown, they’re going to end up right here where I am today – a sick, unemployed, old man.”
“Well I hope they listen,” Horne said before Kelley was led out of the courtroom, “because they usually don’t.”
Goff said that he appreciated Horne’s statements before accepting the plea.
Competency hearing for Deal
Judy Kay Deal, 58, of Amissville, charged with the November murder of her estranged husband in Hume, appeared Monday before Fauquier County Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey W. Parker for the results of a competency exam.
The competency hearing was then continued to circuit court on April 10, at which time it will be determined whether she is competent to stand trial in the shooting death of John Michael Deal, 60, of Hume on Nov. 20, when she also allegedly shot herself.
Her left eye is permanently closed due to that gunshot wound. She is currently under “house arrest,” and is allowed only to make medical appointments, court appearances and meetings with her legal counsel.
Deal is represented by Warrenton lawyer and Rappahannock resident Blair D. Howard.