Last defendant sentenced in arson case

The final defendant in last August’s break-in and arson case was sentenced Tuesday morning (Aug. 28) in Rappahannock County Circuit Court. Julious Ceasar Lucas, 20, of Boston, who had pleaded guilty to each of 10 charges ranging from breaking and entering to arson, was sentenced to 25 years in prison – all of which was suspended pending Lucas’ completion of the Youthful Offender Program (YOP). After completing the program, Lucas will be on supervised probation for 20 years.

The YOP is a boot camp-style program for 18- to 25-year-olds that requires a four-year commitment to incarceration at the Indian Creek Correctional Center in Chesapeake, Va., where inmates wear military fatigues and undergo rigorous physical and educational training.

Lucas read a brief personal statement before being sentenced, in which he acknowledged that he made a mistake and said he was ready to take responsibility for his actions. Judge Alfred D. Swersky also ordered Lucas to pay restitution – $25,000 to State Farm Insurance and $2,000 to William Rowland, the man whose Grand View Road house Lucas and four other young men broke into, spending the night there and deciding in the morning to burn it down to destroy any evidence of their presence.

Witness still missing

The case of Anthony Robert Ahrens – the former county resident and local chef accused of dropping a cat into a pen full of dogs last December – was continued again Tuesday (Aug. 28). Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff and Ahrens’ defense attorney Frank Reynolds both reasserted the need for Leo A. Shipp, a material witness and Ahrens’ father, to appear before the case could proceed.

An Aug. 2 jury convened to try Ahrens, who is charged with inhumane killing of a companion animal, a felony, was sent home after Shipp did not show.

Goff said that Shipp had still not been found, but that the U.S. Marshals Service was still actively looking for him. Shipp was last seen in Maryland, and Goff told Judge Swersky that he was confident Shipp would be found soon.

A jury trial is now scheduled for Nov. 27.