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Hoyle sentencing underscores gap between legal and psychological ‘sanity’

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Following a four-hour pre-sentencing hearing Friday, May 10, Warren County Circuit Court Judge Clifford L. Athey Jr. sentenced 34-year-old David Glynn Hoyle Jr. to 13 years of active incarceration for Second Degree Murder in the March 27, 2017 shooting death of 58-year-old Warren Ramsey. Hoyle was living with his mother, Wanda Horton, and Ramsey, her live-in boyfriend of eight years at the time of the shooting on Grand Avenue in Front Royal.

Initially charged with First Degree Murder, Hoyle faced 20 years to life in prison. However as part of a plea agreement with the commonwealth, Hoyle entered a guilty plea to Second Degree Murder. Second Degree Murder carries a sentencing range of five to 40 years. Suggested guidelines from the plea agreement carried an active incarceration range cap of 17 years on the high end to five years on the low. A second charge of use of a firearm in commission of a felony carrying a mandatory-minimum three year sentence was dropped as part of the plea agreement.

Athey prefaced his decision to sentence Hoyle to 30 years with 17 years suspended, followed by 10 years of supervised probation by citing mitigating circumstances presented by the defense team of Timothy Coyne and Ryan Nuzzo, particularly testimony from expert psychological witness Dr. William Stejskal, a clinical psychologist and forensic psychologist at the University of Virginia, School of Law; as well as earlier corroborating expert testimony from a Dr. Rawls.

That mitigating circumstance was a paranoid delusional state mimicking schizophrenia or bipolar disorder brought on by a misdiagnosis of Hoyle as bipolar from a psychiatrist whom testimony indicated has since lost her license to practice. That psychiatrist identified as Dr. Kumarappan of Falls Church at the time, prescribed extremely high doses of the drug Xanax to treat Hoyle as bipolar. More normal, lower doses of the drug are much less likely to cause the type of severe impacts Hoyle experienced, Stejskal testified. Of those severe impacts, Stejskal elaborated that they “duplicate psychotic symptoms”.

David Glynn Hoyle Jr. at the time of his March 27, 2016 arrest for Warren Ramsey’s murder; Hoyle was sporting the type of strap-on protective vest indicative of inmates believed to be a potential threat to themselves. Photos Courtesy of RSW Jail

Dr. Stejskal described the psychological problems David Hoyle has battled since childhood as a borderline personality disorder characterized by panic attacks, anxiety, depression and substance abuse. However, they are problems far short of the delusional characteristics of bipolar disorder, Stejskal testified.

On the stand Hoyle told the court he had dropped out of school in the ninth grade because he found high school “too overwhelming”. There were indications he had been bullied at earlier school levels. Other testimony indicated he had become addicted to opioids after having them prescribed following a car accident that resulted in a back injury. Hoyle also described an incident in which he was jumped and hit in the face resulting in the fracture of 97% of the orbital bone around one eye.

Hoyle expressed profound sorrow for Ramsey’s death both during his testimony and in a prepared statement to the court before sentencing. During direct examination Tim Coyne asked his client how he felt about what he had done – “I hate myself for what happened; I feel terrible. I just want to say to Warren’s family, I’m sorry, God I’m so sorry.”

In his prepared statement he told the court, “I am so sorry for the heartache and pain I have caused to my mother and Warren’s family … I am not that type of person, I still have terrible nightmares … I understand I cannot go unpunished. But I hope I can use the rest of my life to help people dealing with mental illness – I know some of these are high hopes but I will not give up on them.

“Please forgive me … Warren was a good man. He helped me at the worst time of my life. He never gave up on me … Give me more time to try to correct the wrongs I did – I can never make up for what I did. I just ask you to give me the opportunity to try …”

Defense counsel asked the court for the minimum five years of actual time served. It appears that Hoyle could be credited for the two years of time served though that was not directly addressed during sentencing. When Athey rendered his 13-years of active incarceration in prison decision, Hoyle’s mother who had quietly sobbed through much of the hearing bolted from the courtroom and surrounding family members in tears.

Earlier Hoyle’s mother Wanda, Hoyle’s older sister Candace Ramirez, younger sister Faith Horton, older brother Jason Hoyle and longtime friend Quentin Cancey all described David as a caring, respectful, helpful person who was not by nature violent at all.

However, those same family members and friend all testified to a profoundly negative change in Hoyle’s psychological state from late 2015 when he began see Dr. Kumarappan to the time of Ramsey’s death on March 27, 2017. That state was an increasingly profound paranoia that those around him, particularly Ramsey, were plotting against him; torturing him and perhaps planning to kill him.

Hoyle’s older brother Jason, who lives in New Jersey, gave 43 recorded phone messages to the defense submitted as evidence in the hearing from his brother describing in detail his delusion of being plotted against by family members in the household.

Hoyle’s older sister by two years, Ramirez, said by late 2016 she could no longer let her brother David around her children – “I didn’t recognize my brother” she testified of behavior that included banging a sledgehammer and scratching his face until it bled while looking for his prescription medication from the psychiatrist. She said she told her brother Jason she believed it was time to commit their younger brother.

Hoyle grapples with his situation and what he has done while still under influence of high doses of miss-prescribed medication that produced symptoms of psychosis, including paranoia, delusions and hallucinations.

Dr. Stejskal described Hoyle’s condition resulting from the overmedication with Xanax for a condition he did not have, including at the time he shot Ramsey, as a “medication-induced delirium” which he further defined as “an altered state of consciousness that impaired thinking, perceptions and induced hallucinations and paranoia.”

Coyne asked his client if he remembered shooting Warren Ramsey. Hoyle replied “flashes of it” including hearing his mother screaming and getting in a police car.

However, in arguing for the maximum 17 years of incarceration Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Anna Hammond pointed out that Hoyle did not meet the legal standard of insanity – “He knows what he did was wrong … He immediately knew what he did; he said he was sorry,” Hammond pointed out of Hoyle’s statements to police who responded to the scene and in an interview with Detective Landin Waller a short time after his arrest.

Asked by Waller what caused him to shoot Ramsey, Hoyle replied, “I was scared.”

“Why did you do it?” Waller pressed.

“He tortures me,” Hoyle said, adding that Ramsey abused him and his dog – “He’s only eight pounds,” Hoyle said of the dog. During her testimony, Hoyle’s mother said every time her son heard
the dog bark in another part of the house or yard he thought he was being tortured.

“Did he say something to you tonight or make you scared so you did this? What was the tipping point,” Waller asked of the shooting.

“I don’t know,” Hoyle whimpered in reply, adding, “He didn’t deserve to be shot. I didn’t want to shoot him.”

“He shot Mr. Ramsey a minimum of 10 times,” Hammond noted of Hoyle’s emptying the 9-mm semi-automatic pistol clip at Ramsey as he sat on a couch in a family room with his mother and what police described as “other family members” present.

Hammond also pointed to Hoyle’s history of illegal drug abuse and failed attempts at therapy at Northwestern Community Center. Could his admitted use of marijuana while on the high-doses of Xanax accentuated the negative impact of the drug on him, Hammond asked the court.

The assistant commonwealth’s attorney also presented Hoyle’s record at RSW Jail since his arrest on March 27, 2017, which included 43 behavioral incidents including fights with other inmates, failing to follow guard orders and making “hooch” which RSW Records Supervisor Sarah Fields testified is a homemade alcohol made by inmates out of leftover food.

Defense counsel Coyne countered that the 43 citations covered a period of 770 days in jail; that 10 complaints were written up by one guard and that in at least one of the two fights Hoyle was involved in, it was he who was struck first. During his testimony Hoyle said the fight in which he threw the first punch was with an inmate he had seen get into four previous fights leading him to believe his action was essentially a pre-emptive act of self defense.

Not a summer camp or a therapeutic center – RSW Regional Jail has been Hoyle’s residence for two years. He will now move into the state correctional system to serve the balance of a 13-year sentence. Royal Examiner File Photos/Roger Bianchini

“Did you ever threaten an officer?” Coyne asked his client during direct examination.

“No,” Hoyle replied, elaborating, “I did call an officer an asshole – I did do that. He was being cruel,” Hoyle added by way of explanation.

“This is a tragic, tragic case in many ways – he’s admitted it. But it must be viewed in the context of how it happened. There is so much pain that will not be taken away by time served. Clearly he does accept responsibility,” Coyne said in closing arguments.

Of the commonwealth’s argument that Hoyle had not followed up on therapy suggestions in the past, Coyne said, “No, he didn’t follow through on therapy – that is the behavior of an addict.
Hoyle’s family members all said they would be there for their son and brother to help him stay on the path of recovery outside prison walls, including staying away from non-prescribed drugs and accessing and maintaining the therapeutic help Dr. Stejskal recommended for Hoyle.

Younger sister Faith Horton, 23, said she had lived with David most of her life. She called him “the best big brother in the world” and said she would be his “biggest supporter” when he was released to see he got and maintained the psychological help Dr. Stejskal said would be of most benefit to Hoyle gaining and maintaining psychological stability. Such therapeutic help will not be available to Hoyle in Department of Corrections facilities, Dr. Stejskal pointed out.

Of Hammond’s pointing to Hoyle’s testimony that he was reluctant to be given new prescriptive medication, Coyne said, “He didn’t say he won’t take prescriptions in the future, he expressed a heartfelt fear because of what happened … proper treatment cannot be achieved in DOC (Department of Corrections), not at RSW,” defense counsel said of what is available to inmates in criminal detention facilities.

However, all of Hoyle’s family and friends who have maintained contact with him since his arrest pointed to a relative return to normal from being off the wrong medication and on properly prescribed medicine while at RSW Regional Jail.

So if not therapy, at least Hoyle’s drug intake will be carefully monitored while he is in prison. If given credit for his two years of time served, when released he will have 13 years of controlled medication behind him at age 45. Athey said he would leave an order on therapy during the 10 years of supervised probation up to the probation officer at the time of Hoyle’s release.

In prefacing his decision the judge said he took state sentencing guidelines very seriously as a means of assuring citizens across the commonwealth are treated equally for the commission of similar crimes.

“This was a tragedy getting ready to happen,” Athey said of the shooting death of Warren Ramsey at the hands of a young man he had been like a second father to. In particular the judge was referencing law enforcement and family testimony about a November 29, 2016 incident four months before the shooting leading to a police response to the home.

Hoyle had placed a 911 call that he was being held against his will at the family’s Grand Avenue residence. It took police seven to eight hours to talk Hoyle out of his room where he had barricaded himself against the imagined threats outside his door.

The Grand Avenue murder scene.

That incident led to a trip to Warren Memorial Hospital and the issuing of an Emergency Custody Order (ECO) to keep Hoyle under observation. He was shortly released to the custody of his father, David Glynn Hoyle Sr. who has since passed away, with a “safety plan”. However, testimony indicated he soon returned to Grand Avenue to live. And as the law apparently required under ECO parameters, his three pistols were returned to him.

And while two of those guns had been sold as requested by his family, and a third one was planned for sale, it was still in the home the evening of March 27, 2017, as was David Glynn Hoyle Jr.’s delusional paranoid state brought on by over-medication and misdiagnosis by a since-decertified psychiatric professional.

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Linden resident strikes pedestrian with vehicle, charged with malicious wounding

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In the evening hours of May 12, 2020, the Front Royal Police Department responded to the intersection of East Stonewall Drive and Bee Street for a report of a pedestrian struck by a vehicle. The victim, 54-year-old male, Dale Potter, was quickly located by first responding officers and transported by Warren County EMS personnel to Warren Memorial Hospital for initial treatment. Potter was then flown to Winchester Medical Center for treatment of serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

From the initial investigation, it was discovered the victim was intentionally struck by a passenger car driven by Avery Bailey because of a physical altercation in the minutes prior. Bailey, a 21-year-old Linden resident, fled the scene and abandoned the vehicle at an alternate location. The vehicle and Bailey were located shortly thereafter by FRPD with the assistance of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office.

Avery Richard Bailey. Photo courtesy of RSW Regional Jail.

Avery Bailey has been charged with malicious wounding (18.2-51) and was transported to Rappahannock Shenandoah Warren (RSW) Regional Jail where he is currently being held without bond. The court date for this offense is set for June 30, 2020, in Warren County General District Court.

This investigation is on-going and anyone with any further information is asked to contact Detective M.R. Ramey at (540) 636-2208 or by email at mramey@frontroyalva.com.

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Town Talk: A conversation with Captain Jeff Holzbauer and Lt. Robbie Seal; watch out for scams, counterfeit money

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In this Town Talk, we’ll have a conversation with Captain Jeff Holzbauer and Lt. Robbie Seal from the Warren County Sheriff’s Office. Lt. Seal is the Community Resource Officer and Captain Holzbauer is in charge of the Patrol Division. The Warren County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Division has the primary law enforcement responsibilities of providing a wide range of services and to initiate a proactive approach when assisting the community.


Lt Seal brings us information on COVID-19 scams in our community. Captain Holzbauer ask for help from the community on two individuals wanted in connection with passing counterfeit money in the County.

The Sheriff’s Office is looking for the following individuals:

Cyrus Bartholomew Fiel, a 31 years old, white male, 5’10”, 160 lbs, red hair, green eyes. He has multiple warrants out for his arrest: Probation Violation, Dangerous Drugs, Forgery of US Currency.

  • Wanted out of Strasburg Police Department for Dangerous Drugs
  • Wanted out of Front Royal Police Department for a Probation Violation
  • Wanted out of WCSO for Forgery of United States Currency

Fiel and other accomplices have allegedly been making counterfeit United States currency, $10, $20, $50, $100. Two arrests have been made in this case already and more charges are pending.

Lekeshian Jones

Lekeshian Jones, 33 years old, black female, 5’3″, 180-200 lbs. She is from the Trenton, NJ area. Jones has been identified as one of two females that passed $760 in counterfeit $20 at Walmart in Front Royal on April 11, 2020.

If you have any information, please contact Investigator J. Seabright jseabright@warrencountysheriff.org or call the mail number of the Sheriff’s Office (540) 635-4128

Town Talk is a series on the Royal Examiner where we will introduce you to local entrepreneurs, businesses, non-profit leaders, and political figures who influence Warren County. Topics will be varied but hopefully interesting. If you have an idea, topic, or want to hear from someone in our community, let us know. Send your request to news@RoyalExaminer.com

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One vehicle accident downs power lines to Royal Village Wednesday afternoon

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Town crews work to clear the scene of accident taking down Town power pole near intersection of Kendrick Lane and Massanutten Avenue. Royal Examiner Photos/Mike McCool

The power into Royal Village was interrupted early Wednesday evening as a result of a traffic incident. Town Director of Energy Services David Jenkins responded to Royal Examiner’s request for information on the situation early Thursday morning. Below is the full text of his reply:

“The Energy services department received an online submittal that the power was out in the W 11th St area. a crew was dispatched and upon arrival they found that a vehicle had struck a utility pole that feed’s directly from our Kendrick Lane substation and snapped it off. The crew than began to clear and isolate the primary wire and pole that was on the ground and then proceeded to get the power back on by transferring the loads to another circuit that feeds from our Manassas Avenue substation.

Work on the downed power pole and lines

“The pole that was struck also had underground primary feeder attached to it as well. We called in our Public works department for a backhoe to dig up the damaged wire. A contractor for CenturyLink had to be called in to repair the phone lines.

“Power went off at 6:41 pm

“Power back on at 7:27 pm

“Number of customers affected 931”

The involved vehicle is removed from scene

Information gathered at the scene by Royal Examiner staff indicated the driver of the involved vehicle may have fled the scene on foot.

By late morning Thursday, Front Royal Police Captain Crystal Cline confirmed the arrest of Artavia Michelle Price-Bey for DUI, Property Damage over $1000, and Failure to Maintain Car Insurance, regarding the incident. Price-Bey was transported to RSW Regional Jail and booked into the facility at 9:26 p.m. Wednesday evening. She was released Thursday morning at 11:52 a.m.

Artavia Michelle Price-Bey upon booking into RSW Jail just prior to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday night. Courtesy Photo/RSW

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Winchester Police on point of carjacking suspect arrest in Front Royal

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Photos of the Joint Task Force raid at 218 East 6th St., Front Royal, Thursday morning, April 2. Winchester Police led the operation targeting a robbery-carjacking suspect in a city incident of March 28. Royal Examiner Video-Stills/Mark Williams

Prior to 8 a.m., Thursday morning, April 2nd, not far from the Royal Examiner/National Media Services’ Commerce Avenue Front Royal offices, a joint law enforcement operation led by the Winchester City Police Department’s Investigative Unit arrested a suspect on multiple charges in a March 28 incident in the city. Below is the Winchester Police Department’s full press release on its investigation and Thursday morning’s joint-departmental operation:

On April 2, 2020, at approximately 7:15 a.m., the Winchester Police Department (WPD), assisted by other law enforcement agencies, executed a search warrant at 218 East 6th Street in Front Royal, VA following an ongoing investigation into a carjacking in the City of Winchester. As a result of the investigation and search warrant, Diontre Tyrese Bell, 20 years old, of the above address in Front Royal, was arrested and charged with carjacking, robbery, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Diontre Tyrese Bell. Photo courtesy of RSW Jail.


On March 28, 2020, at approximately 12:30 a.m., WPD was alerted to a motor vehicle theft that had just occurred in the 100 blocks of East Pall Mall Street. Upon investigation into the incident, detectives learned that the male victim was standing outside his 1990 Dodge Caravan when he was approached by a group of males. One of the males, later identified as Diontre Bell, grabbed the backpack the victim was wearing and took items including a firearm and keys to the van. Threatening statements were made during the encounter. No injuries were sustained during the incident. The van was later recovered on March 30th, parked and unoccupied, along the roadway in the 1300 block of South Braddock Street.


During the execution of the search warrant, two cell phones were seized and DNA was collected. Bell is being held at the Rappahannock Shenandoah Warren Regional Detention Center without bond. The Winchester Police Department would like to publicly thank the Front Royal Police Department, Warren County Sheriff’s Office and the Northwest Regional Drug Task Force for their assistance in the investigation.

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Front Royal man arrested on robbery and weapons charges

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D’Andre Lawrence. Photo / RSW Regional Jail

Early this morning, D’Andre Lawrence was arrested on felony robbery and weapons charges stemming from an early morning incident at the Blue Ridge Motel. Front Royal Police were called at approximately 1:30am to respond to an alleged robbery that had occurred at the local motel. The victim alleged that two individuals assaulted him and took an undisclosed amount of money and ran in the direction of Massanutten Avenue.

Lawrence was arrested on the mentioned charges and transported to RSW Regional Jail and held without bond. The second individual in this incident was identified as a male juvenile and is wanted for questioning.

Anyone who may have information about this case is asked to please contact Detective Z. King at 540-636-2208 or by email at zking@frontroyalva.com.

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Virginia State Police concludes investigation into inmate death at New River Regional Jail

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The Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Wytheville Field Office has concluded its investigation into the September 2019 death of an inmate at the New River Valley Regional Jail. The case is closed and no charges will be placed in accordance with the findings of the Office of the Medical Examiner in Roanoke and at the advisement of the City of Radford Commonwealth’s Attorney and Pulaski County Commonwealth’s Attorney.

The investigation was conducted at the request of the New River Valley Regional Jail. On the evening of September 11, 2019, Radford University Police responded to a call at a campus facility concerning Aris Eduardo Lobo-Perez, 18, of Culpeper, Virginia. Police took him into custody shortly before midnight on a charge of public intoxication. As is standard procedure, Lobo-Perez was transported by the arresting agency to New River Valley Regional Jail in Pulaski County.

At approximately 7:20 a.m. on September 12, 2019, jail personnel approached Lobo-Perez to offer him breakfast, which he declined. It was at 7:50 a.m. that jail personnel found Lobo-Perez unresponsive in his cell. Despite the immediate efforts by jail personnel to resuscitate the inmate, Lobo-Perez was declared deceased at the jail. His remains were transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner in Roanoke for examination and autopsy.

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