Crime/Court

Crime/Court
September trial date set in Hoyle-Ramsey murder case
January 5, 2018
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The scene of the crime – the Grand Avenue home Hoyle shared with his mother and victim Warren Howard Ramsey. Photo/Roger Bianchini

FRONT ROYAL – A trial date of September 10 has been set for the start of the murder trial of a Front Royal man accused of shooting his mother’s fiancé last March in the Grand Avenue home they shared. David Glynn Hoyle pled not guilty Wednesday, January 3, to counts of First Degree Murder and the Use of a Firearm in the commission of a felony. A full week of the Warren County Circuit Court docket was set aside for a jury trial.

Hoyle, 32 at the time of the March 27 shooting of 58-year-old Warren Howard Ramsey, faces 20 years to life on the murder charge and a mandatory-minimum of three years on the firearm charge. Hoyle remains incarcerated without bond at RSW Regional Jail.

Wednesday was Hoyle’s second court appearance within two weeks. On December 20, his defense team’s motion to suppress some evidence gathered at the scene in the immediate aftermath of the shooting – including Hoyle’s admission to shooting Ramsey – was denied by Judge Ronald Napier.

Related story here: Motion to suppress Hoyle statements to police in murder trial denied

Several issues likely to play a pivotal role in a trial, or any potential plea agreement, were alluded to during that December 20 hearing. Under questioning from defense counsel Ryan Nuzzo, one Front Royal Police Officer at the scene testified he was aware from previous interactions that Hoyle had suffered a brain injury at some point in his life.

In seeking suppression of evidence gathered in police interviews with Hoyle at the scene, Nuzzo questioned his client’s ability to comprehend the implications of his waiver of his Miranda right to not answer questions or to have an attorney present for any questioning. Testimony indicated that during questioning by first officers at the scene, Hoyle had nodded affirmatively when asked if he shot Ramsey.

Judge Napier observed from viewing police camera video from the scene that it appeared to him officers were not trying to elicit a confession from Hoyle, but rather trying to get a handle on a very volatile and emotional situation they walked into – a situation that included the possibility there was an armed shooter at the scene or nearby. Police responded to the report of a shooting at the Grand Avenue residence at 10:49 p.m., Monday evening, March 27.

“He seemed upset, in a state of shock,” Front Royal Police Officer Tyler Smith testified of Hoyle’s demeanor at the scene. “I couldn’t stand the torture …I couldn’t take it anymore – but I didn’t want to do that,” Smith testified of Hoyle’s comments to officers.

The police report states that according to an unidentified family member Hoyle walked into the living room where Ramsey was seated on the couch and began shooting without any words being exchanged between the two. During hearings Hoyle’s mother Wanda Horton has been identified as one family member present at the scene with her son when police arrived to a report of a shooting.

In an April hearing in Warren County General District Court, a mental competency evaluation of Hoyle was granted to the defense. Asked by Judge W. Dale Houff if they were going to file an insanity plea on behalf of their client, the defense team of Nuzzo and Tim Coyne indicated they would defer a decision pending the results of any mental evaluations.

RSW Jail mugshot of David Glynn Hoyle shortly after his arrest. Photo/RSW Jail

 

Crime/Court
Warren County man arrested for shooting into occupied dwelling
January 2, 2018
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Frederick County deputies responded to reports of shots fired on Jan. 1, 2018 in the 100 block of Star Tannery Road.

FREDERICK COUNTY, VA – A Warren County man was arrested and charged with reckless handling of a firearm and shooting into an occupied dwelling following an incident just past midnight on New Years Day.

Captain Aleck Beeman, a spokesman for the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office says Michael Priola, 26, of Browntown, was arrested and charged after admitting to firing “around five shots from a .40 caliber pistol.”

Deputies responded to a 12:03 a.m.  call in the 100 block of Star Tannery Road for a report of shots fired into a residence.

The victim reported to deputies that neighbors across the street had been firing guns at midnight, after which he found a bullet lying on his kitchen floor.  The bullet, Captain Beeman said,  had apparently entered the wall, come through the kitchen cabinet and fallen onto the floor.

Deputies then questioned the neighbors, who stated that during a New Year’s Eve gathering,  a guest had gone outside and fired several shots from a pistol.  Michael Priola, a Warren County resident, stated that he had fired around five shots from a .40 caliber pistol.  He was arrested and charged with reckless handling of a firearm and shooting into an occupied dwelling.

Priola was held at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center until sober and then was released on a $5000 unsecured bond.

Crime/Court Local News
Frederick County Sheriff’s Office: 7-11 robbed at gunpoint Christmas evening
December 26, 2017
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Frederick County deputies responded to an armed robbery at the 7-11 on Millwood Ave. Christmas night. /File photo

Frederick County, VA – A 7-11 convenience store on Millwood Pike (U.S. Route 50) was robbed at gunpoint on Christmas night, just after 9:15 p.m. according to the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office.
Captain Aleck Beeman stated in a media release Tuesday afternoon that the clerk reported that a white female brandishing a silver handgun entered the store and demanded money.

The clerk told deputies she handed over the money from the cash drawer, after which the suspect left the store and ran to Delco Plaza.
The suspect reportedly jumped into the passenger seat of a smaller black truck that was parked in Delco Plaza. The truck left the area heading east on Millwood Pike.

Captain Beeman said no one was injured during the robbery, and an undisclosed amount of money was taken in the alleged incident.

The suspect is described as a white female, approximately five-feet, five inches tall, with a smaller build. She was last seen wearing black pants and coat, a white beanie hat, black sunglasses and a green scarf covering her face.

Anyone who may have witnessed the alleged robbery or has information regarding the incident is encouraged to call the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office at 540-662-6162, or Crime Solvers at 540-665-TIPS.

Information that leads to an arrest could result in a reward. Tipsters can remain anonymous.

Crime/Court Local News
Arrest made in spate of Front Royal church burglaries
December 22, 2017
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William Roy Foster. Photo/ RSW Regional Jail.

FRONT ROYAL – An arrest has been made in a rash of church burglaries that occurred over the past few weeks, according to the Front Royal Police Department.

 A Thursday media release from Chief K.L. Magalis states that William Roy Foster, 53, of Front Royal has been arrested and charged with several counts each of Breaking and Entering, Possession of Burglary Tools, Larceny, and Trespassing.  

 The release indicated that Foster was arrested following an in-depth investigation conducted by the Front Royal Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division. 

St. John’s Catholic Church, located at 120 W. Main Street reported burglaries on Wednesday, December 6, 2017 and again on Monday December 11, 2017.  A bronze box was reportedly stolen during the December 6th burglary and a safe with an undisclosed amount of cash was reported missing following the December 11th break-in. 

The First Baptist Church, located at 14 W. First Street also reported a burglary on the morning of December 11, 2017.   The release did not disclose if anything was missing from that break-in.

 Foster is currently being held at the RSW Regional Jail.  Anyone with additional information regarding the burglaries is asked to contact Front Royal Police Detective Marc Ramey at (540) 636-2208.  

Crime/Court Local News
Motion to suppress Hoyle statements to police in murder case denied
December 20, 2017
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RSW Jail mugshot of David Glynn Hoyle shortly after his arrest. The strap-on vest is indicative of an inmate on suicide watch. Photo/RSW Jail

 

FRONT ROYAL – Defense motions to suppress statements made by accused murderer David Glynn Hoyle Jr. to police in the immediate aftermath of the March 27 shooting death of his mother’s fiancé were denied by Judge Ronald Napier following an hour-and-10-minute hearing on Wednesday afternoon, December 20.

Hoyle, 32 at the time of the shooting in the Grand Avenue home he shared with his mother and 58-year-old Warren Howard Ramsey, is accused of First Degree Murder and Use of a Firearm in the commission of a felony.  He faces 20 years to life on the murder charge and a three-year mandatory-minimum of three years on the firearm charge.  Hoyle remains incarcerated without bond at RSW Regional Jail.

Defense attorney Ryan Nuzzo argued that his client was questioned without proper Miranda rights being exercised by town police on the scene and during a subsequent interview during which he was given a gun residue test.  The defense team from the Public Defenders Office was also seeking suppression of the result of that gun residue test.

At issue for the defense was their client’s ability to comprehend a waiver of his Miranda rights, as well as whether initial questions asked by officers immediately after they arrived on the scene of a report of a man down with gunshot wounds were made without Miranda rights being offered.

Nuzzo solicited an admission by one officer, Investigator Landin Waller who conducted the post-arrest interview and residue testing of Hoyle, that he was aware from previous police interaction with Hoyle that the defendant had suffered a brain injury at an earlier point in time.  The defense position was that Hoyle may not have been capable of understanding the implications of several affirmative answers to officers regarding his willingness to talk about the crime and his part in it, both before and after being Mirandized.

Judge Napier said he had reviewed four hours of police video from the scene and subsequent Waller interview with Hoyle.  After explaining that he had been impressed with the defense motion on the suppression of the interview evidence, Judge Napier said he had approached the videos with a skeptical mind as to their admissibility.

“But I didn’t see anything improper,” the judge said in prefacing his denial of the defense motions.  Napier agreed that officers arrived to a very tense and emotional scene with both Hoyle and his mother present and no information on whether an armed shooter might still be on the scene.

Judge Napier said he believed initial questions to a very agitated Hoyle were simply attempts get a handle on the situation.

“I think the officers were just trying to figure out what’s going on here – they weren’t pointing the finger at anybody … the defendant very spontaneously admitted he shot him,” Napier said of what he had seen on video and read from transcripts of the videos.

Hoyle’s ability to be understood at times, particularly during the post-arrest Waller interview, as well as contradictory answers to questions, also came into play in the defense argument.  Defense counsel Nuzzo pointed to one sequence where Investigator Waller asked Hoyle if he understood his Miranda rights.  An initial “no” answer was followed by an additional explanation and subsequent “yes” from Hoyle, followed by what Nuzzo described as a “mumbling shriek”.


The Grand Avenue home Hoyle shared with his mother and victim Warren Howard Ramsey. Photo/Roger Bianchini

 

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Anna Hammond countered that officers at the scene had bent over backward to accommodate a very distraught and emotional Hoyle.  “All the officers were extremely kind, gentle and patient with Mr. Hoyle.  There was no kind of coercive environment, absolutely no police misconduct,” she told the court.

Perhaps oddly, Nuzzo agreed in principal with Hammond’s rebuttal description – “Officer Waller showed a lot of humanity … I’m not saying otherwise – it is just the ability of Mr. Hoyle to understand,” the defense attorney told the court.

In arguing for suppression Nuzzo said, “I ask the court to err on the side of the defendant.”  He said he feared a ruling for the prosecution retention of the evidence could “open the door to future officers – not Detective Waller,” Nuzzo elaborated, to ignore or improperly apply Miranda rights.

However, the court did not agree that the specific circumstances of this post-crime questioning could lay the groundwork for future abuses by law enforcement.

During questioning of other officers who initially responded to the scene it was testified that Hoyle had nodded affirmatively when asked if he had shot Ramsey.

“I couldn’t take it anymore – but I didn’t want to do that,” Officer Tyler Smith testified Hoyle told him.  “He seemed upset, in a state of shock,” Smith testified of Hoyle’s demeanor at the scene.

During an April hearing the defense requested and was granted a mental competency hearing for their client.

A hearing date was set for the 9 a.m. docket on January 3 to set a trial date.

Crime/Court Local News
Powell receives 16 years in plea agreement in Leah Adams murder
December 20, 2017
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Leah Adams, a life cut tragically short – social media photo

At an emotionally charged Tuesday afternoon (Dec. 19) plea agreement hearing in Warren County Circuit Court, Bailey Powell plead guilty and received a 16-year sentence for the March 25, drug-fueled murder of his 19-year-old girlfriend Leah Adams.

Powell, 17 at the time of the murder, was charged with Second Degree Murder.  The sentencing range for Felony Second Degree Murder for adults is 5 to 40 years.  According to court discussion, sentencing guidelines in cases with the age and other variables cited in this case ranged from 12-years, 11-months to 21-years, 7-months.  Judge Clifford L. Athey sentenced Powell to the maximum 40 years, with all but 16 suspended.  With good behavior, Powell could be released having served 85-percent of that 16-year sentence, or 13.6 years.  He would be just shy of 32 years old at that point, or 34 if he serves the full 16 years.

Having accepted the plea agreement and rendered the sentence, Athey told Powell that unlike his victim, he would get a second chance at life. – “And I hope you take full advantage of it – if not, I guarantee you will serve the full balance of the sentence.”

Approximately 30 people, divided equally between Adams’ and Powell’s families and friends, witnessed the plea agreement hearing.  However, only one of those 30 people, as well as the defendant, addressed the court Tuesday afternoon – both fighting tears throughout their testimony.

First, Leah Adams father was called to testify to his and his family’s acceptance of the plea agreement.  And once that agreement was accepted by the court, Bailey Powell rose to address the court and Adams’ family.

A social media post of Leah Adams and Bailey Powell during happier times – social media photo

“Leah Adams was a beautiful person … and she was the love of my life,” the 18-year-old Powell began.

Of the night of Leah Adams death, Powell added, “I think about it every day; I try to remember the circumstance.”  He said his attorneys had showed him video of his being interviewed by authorities in the wake of Adams death.  “I appeared to be a monster … but I took the drugs that made me that monster … I want her family to know I am very sorry,” Powell concluded in tears.

Testimony offered to proffer the plea agreement verified that Powell and Adams both had ingested the hallucinogenic drug LSD the night of Adams death (see additional detail in “Background” subsection below).

Prior to Powell’s statement to the court, Adams father was asked about the agreed-upon 16-year sentence.  At the conclusion of his testimony he was asked if he was “comfortable” with the disposition of the case. – “Yes,” he replied.

However, getting to that point didn’t come easy for Leah Adams father.

“It’s tough sitting here knowing I’m never going to see my daughter again – and Christmas is in one week and she’s not going to be there … I want Bailey to understand what he’s taken from us.  Every day is a hard day – watching my wife cry; watching my kids cry,” Adams said against tears.  “She’s not going to get to do the things she wanted to do – it’s hard.”

Asked by defense counsel Beau Bassler if his faith had bolstered him in his acceptance of the plea agreement, lay minister Adams said, “Without my faith I might feel different.  My faith has laid a lot on me.”

However, that tested faith retained forgiveness, as reported above when Adams told the court “yes” to the plea agreed-upon 16 year sentence for the second-degree murder of his daughter.

In accepting the plea agreement as a family holiday season approaches, Judge Clifford L. Athey addressed the tragic nature of the case and the loss of two families – one forever and one for the next 14 to 16 years of a son’s life:  “Have the best Christmas you can have,” Athey told those two families.

Background

Family and friends console each other after praying outside the Warren County Courthouse following the plea agreement resolution of the Leah Adams-Bailey Powell murder case. Photo/Roger Bianchini

As Royal Examiner reported earlier in this case, according to social media posts of both the victim and her accused murderer, Powell and Adams had been in a relationship for about 10 weeks at the time of Adams’ death.

According to testimony at an emotional May 25 hearing open to the public in Warren County Juvenile Court, Powell had ingested LSD, a psychotropic drug the day of Adams murder.  Witnesses painted a picture of a suspect thrown into acute paranoia by his drug intake, then deciding to flee Adams’ Cherrydale Avenue home, where several friends were gathered, in her vehicle.  Adams attempt to regain control of her car around 10:30 p.m. on a Friday evening ended about 3 blocks.

Law enforcement witnesses said Powell told them Adams threw the car into park from the passenger seat on the 100 block of Kerfoot Avenue, across the street from the Warren County skatepark and Skyline soccerplex.  At Tuesday’s plea agreement hearing, additional testimony was proffered by the prosecution indicating Powell told investigators that Adams abrupt stopping of the car had “pissed him off”.

Neighborhood witnesses said the car began to move as Adams was attempting to enter through the open driver’s side door.  As the car swerved to the right, northbound, eventually knocking two mailboxes over, Adams fell into the street.  Witnesses said she rose screaming for help, falling at a driveway where she was initially assisted by residents, including a nurse and off-duty Front Royal policeman.

She was pronounced dead on arrival at Warren Memorial Hospital a short time later.

Powell was taken into custody after creating a disturbance about two blocks away, after abandoning Adams’ vehicle around the corner from where Adams fell fatally wounded from two stab wounds to the chest.

Witnesses who encountered Powell described him alternately asking people if they had a pistol and yelling for someone to kill him.  Law enforcement officers, who questioned Powell the night of the murder, testified on May 25 that the suspect stated at various times that he didn’t stab Adams; didn’t remember stabbing her; or that it was an accident.

The officer who stayed with Powell throughout the night in a room where he was held at Warren Memorial Hospital, said he repeatedly asked, “Is she dead?” or “Is she really dead?

Crime/Court
Two Front Royal men arrested following investigation into Shenandoah County vehicle thefts
November 28, 2017
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Forrest Albert McClanahan/ Photo: RSW Regional Jail

Devon Galloway/ Photo: RSW Regional Jail

 

 

 

 

 

 

Warren County, VA – Two Front Royal men have been arrested on multiple offenses related to a string of vehicle thefts in Shenandoah County after Warren County Sheriff’s investigators executed search warrants and found numerous stolen items at the suspects’ homes.

According to a press release from the office of Warren County Sheriff D.T. McEathron, Forrest Albert McClanahan, 31, and Devon Barret Galloway, 25, both from Front Royal, were arrested by the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office.

The release states that, “Warren County Investigators also charged Galloway with eight criminal offenses related to larcenies occurring in Warren County. Additional charges are pending.”

Devon Galloway and Forrest McClanahan are being held without bond at the RSW Regional Jail.

The Warren County Sheriff’s Office encourages citizens to remove valuable items from plain sight and to keep automobile doors locked.

Anyone with any information please contact Investigator Young at the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, (540) 635- 7100 or (540) 635-4123.

Crime/Court
Toddler died of blunt force traumas, twin hospitalized
November 13, 2017
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FRONT ROYAL – The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has released information regarding a cause of death for the 22-month old baby boy who died Wednesday. An autopsy on the child indicates that the cause of death was “multiple blunt force traumas.”

According to a Monday (Nov. 13) phone interview with Lieutenant Phillip Henry, the toddler’s mother, Tabitha Zimmerman, 28, was arrested on Thursday on two counts of cruelty and injuries to children. Her boyfriend Chad Ritchie, 28, was arrested earlier the same day on charges of second-degree murder, malicious wounding and two counts of cruelty to children.

A Monday morning media release from Warren County Sheriff D.T. McEathron indicated that, “A second child from the residence was examined at Warren Memorial Hospital and was determined to need further medical attention. The second child is also 22 months old and the sibling of the first. The second child was admitted to a regional hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.”

Court documents obtained by Royal Examiner indicate that Zimmerman called the Warren County Sheriff’s Office at 6:36 p.m. Wednesday, November 8, to report that her 22-month old son was not breathing. Zimmerman was not in the house, according to the documents, but had been told by Ritchie that one of her sons was not breathing.

According to the criminal complaint, “The mother stated that Chad Ritchie, her boyfriend and the person caring for her two children, had called her and stated he was with her son at their shared residence in Warren County.”

Warren County Fire and Rescue transported that child and his twin brother to Warren Memorial Hospital, where the toddler was pronounced dead.

Chad Ritchie

“Preliminary medical tests on the surviving child show malnourishment over the last year and extensive physical abuse,” court documents state.

A criminal complaint filed against Ritchie states that he admitted to Sheriff’s Office investigators that he had assaulted the two children.

Zimmerman, according to court documents, admitted to investigators that she “was aware of a pattern of abuse by Ritchie on each of her children.”

 

Tabitha Zimmerman – Photo/RSW Jail

Ritchie and Zimmerman are being held at RSW Regional Jail.

Cora Sammons, who sometimes babysat the boys, said Monday night that she is “devastated.”

“Every time I would see them it would make my whole day better. Their smiles would light up the room. They loved to bounce on my legs! Every time they came to my house, and it was time for them to leave, they’d hold onto me and didn’t wanna leave. It’s just a really hard time for me.”

Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact Lt. Phillip Henry at the Warren County Sheriff’s Office at 635-4128 or 635-7100.

Crime/Court
Mother of murdered toddler facing criminal charges
November 13, 2017
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Tabitha Zimmerman, who has been charged with two counts of cruelty and injuries to children. She is being held in the RSW Regional Jail. Photo/RSW Jail

FRONT ROYAL– As the investigation continues into the death of a 22-month-old boy, the Warren County Sheriff’s Department on Monday (Nov. 13) released updated information, including criminal charges against the mother of the victim.

In a media release, Sheriff D.T. McEathron stated that Tabitha Zimmerman, 28, had been charged with two counts of cruelty and injuries to children.

On Nov. 8, when the county E-911 Communications Center received a call that a 22-month-old boy was in cardiac arrest at 908 Blue Mountain Road, Front Royal, the boy’s twin brother was also transported to Warren Memorial Hospital.

That child, according to the media release, was examined at Warren Memorial Hospital and was determined to need further medical attention. The toddler was admitted to a regional hospital with serious, but non-life-threatening, injuries.

The Warren County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division initially identified Chad Ritchie, 28, of 908 Blue Mountain Road, Front Royal as being a suspect in the death of the toddler.   He was charged with second degree murder, malicious wounding, and two counts of cruelty and injuries to children.

SEE RELATED STORY

Based upon further investigation, the children’s mother, Tabitha Zimmerman, was also arrested and charged.  In a Monday afternoon telephone interview, Lieutenant Phillip Henry said that Ms. Zimmerman, of the same address, was arrested and charged with two counts of cruelty and injuries to children on Nov. 9.

Both Ritchie and Zimmerman are currently being held at RSW Regional Jail.

The Warren County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by Warren County Fire and Rescue and the Front Royal Police Department. The investigation is ongoing and anyone with further information regarding the case should contact Lieutenant Phillip Henry at the Warren County Sheriff’s Office at 540-635-4128 or 540-635-7100.

Crime/Court
Warren County man charged in toddler’s death
November 9, 2017
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Warren County, VA – A Warren County man, Chad Ritchie, 28, has been charged with second-degree murder and cruelty and injuries to children following the death of a 22-month-old child.

The Warren County Sheriff’s Office issued a media release late Thursday afternoon stating that the county’s E-911 Communications Center received a call on Wednesday that a child was in cardiac arrest at 908 Blue Mountain Road, Front Royal.

The release states, “The child was transported by EMS to Warren Memorial Hospital where the child passed away.”

According to the release, deputies began investigating the circumstances of the death, which led to Ritchie’s arrest. He is being held in the RSW Regional Jail.

Lt. Phillip Henry, who is handling the investigation, did not return a call regarding the case and Warren County Sheriff D. T. McEathron indicated that no information—other than the media release—was available.

Anyone with information regarding the case is encouraged to contact Lt. Phillip Henry at the Warren County Sheriff’s Office at (540) 635-4128 or (540) 635-7100.