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Ritchie will serve 20 years in death and injuries inflicted to toddler twins

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Chad Ritchie’s RSW Jail mug shot at time of arrest November 2017 – Courtesy Photo RSW Jail

After four hours of pre-sentencing testimony and arguments on Friday afternoon, Chad Ritchie was ordered to serve 20 years of a 55-year sentence imposed by Warren County Circuit Court Judge Clifford L. “Clay” Athey in the death of one, and beating of a second 22-month-old twin child in November 2017.

Ritchie, 28 at the time of his November 2017 arrest, entered Alford guilty pleas on the second day of his December 2018 trial on four charges stemming from the death of 22-month-old toddler Malachi Zimmerman and for non-fatal injuries inflicted to Malachi’s twin brother Micah on November 8, 2017. Ritchie was watching the children of his then girlfriend Tabitha Zimmerman at Zimmerman’s parents’ home where they shared a residence, while Zimmerman was on night-shift at Rubbermaid where both she and Ritchie worked and had met.

Following his choice to enter Alford guilty pleas to a charge of second degree murder in the death of Malachi; malicious wounding of Micah; and one count of endangerment of each child, Ritchie faced guidelines ranging from 15 years of actual incarceration on the low end to a high end of 20 years in prison, with a mid-range of 17 years. In an Alford plea a defendant admits the prosecution has enough evidence to convict without admitting guilt.

Asked by the judge if he had anything to say prior to sentencing, Ritchie hesitated before quietly saying, “No.”

The defense contended the cause of Malachi’s death was not being struck by Ritchie, but rather by a large and panicking man incorrectly administering CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) when he discovered Malachi unconscious and unresponsive in a bedroom where he left him to prepare a bath for the child after his earlier admitted striking of the children.

During Friday’s sentencing hearing defense attorney Jason Ransom reiterated his trial contention that the 6-foot-plus, 220-pound Ritchie had administered CPR as one would to an adult, with two hands and two arms thrusting fully at the abdomen of the child. After being treated by Warren County Fire and Rescue at the scene and in transport to Warren Memorial Hospital, Malachi Zimmerman was pronounced dead at the hospital. Cause of death was determined to be cardiac arrest brought on by internal bleeding from a ruptured intestine that flooded the child’s stomach cavity. See Related Story:

Toddler death defense – ‘a horrific accident’ – prosecution ‘Really?’

However, Layton countered that Ritchie claimed to be and apparently was certified in the administration of CPR – and that someone certified in CPR would not have made such a mistake.

“He was trained … he should have done better but he was freaking out,” Ransom told the court of the adult level of force he contended his client used in trying to revive a 22-month-old child.

A later RSW mug shot from December 2018 illustrates Chad Ritchie’s appearance for trial. Ritchie was wearing jail clothes from another facility (NRADC) during Friday’s hearing. Courtesy Photo RSW Jail

At trial in December and again during the March 22 sentencing hearing the defense attempted to portray Ritchie as a loving father figure to the children who had one terrible lapse of anger management leading to an uncharacteristic outburst of physical violence against the twins.

“That particular day a parent (figure) who because he was overwhelmed … he lost his cool – when someone that size loses it, this is where we are. That child is gone forever and when Mr. Ritchie gets out of prison he will have to live with that,” defense counsel Ransom told the court.

“This has crushed him; this has crushed his spirit … what he did was wrong and he’s got to pay for it – the question is how hard,” Ransom asked. “I don’t think the court needs to teach him not to do this again. We would agree to 20 years if it repeatedly happened. But I think this was a one-time occurrence. This was the worst day in everyone in this family’s life. We ask for 15 to 17 years,” Ransom concluded in seeking a lower to mid-range time of incarceration.

However, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Layton countered that the court should weigh the impacts on the real victims, Malachi and Micah, their mother and grandparents, rather than how Ritchie might be impacted by a few additional years behind bars.

As to Ransom’s question on how harsh a sentence his client should receive, for maternal grandmother Rosemary Zimmerman, who with husband Daniel is raising the surviving twin pending resolution of related charges against their daughter, the answer was harsh. In the day’s most emotional testimony Rosemary Zimmerman described the impact on the family.

“I was the last one to see him (Malachi) when he was carried up to the ambulance. You could tell he was dead. He was way past the color for normal … it happened in our house … they thought we were involved in this sickness,” she told the court, voice rising, starting to cry.

“The guy admitted he killed the baby and we’re suffering for it. I can’t see my daughter; and the kids (Micah and a half sister) can’t see her because of a court order against her … Malachi was dead before he got CPR,” his grandmother told the court.

Then turning toward Ritchie at the defense table, voice rising, Rosemary Zimmerman yelled, “You killed him!!! Give him the max; I don’t even know what it is at this point.”

Mitigation witnesses for the defense included Ritchie’s parents, siblings and friends who all described the defendant as good around children, including the twins from their experience. They also referenced Facebook photos appearing to indicate a positive relationship between Ritchie and the twins posted prior to the tragedy.

However, prosecutor Layton pointed to evidence, including the defendant’s own verbal and written interviews with authorities in the wake of Malachi’s death and his brother Micah’s treatment for injuries at the hospital the night of November 8, 2017.

“He was so upset the kids weren’t behaving the way he wanted them to that he took cigarette breaks to try and calm down,” Layton told the court. He pointed to the defendant’s description of events indicating that Malachi had lain down and cried for 10 minutes after being struck by Ritchie one of the earlier of three times the defendant admitted to hitting the child. Upset by that continuous crying, Ritchie returned to again strike the child, choking and body slamming him, Layton said, “Then he stopped crying – how hard to you have to hit a child to stop him from crying like that,” Layton asked the court.

“He (Ritchie) tried to minimize it from the outset,” Layton said of the defendant’s portrayal of events. “The defense says he was panicking. But look at the text he sent Tabitha Zimmerman – what does he tell her, ‘Get your ass home – we have a problem.’

“A dead child is not a problem; a dead child is a tragedy. He deserves far more than 20 years,” Layton told the court of the sentencing guidelines.

Noting the defendant’s age, Judge Athey observed that unlike Malachi Zimmerman “Mr. Ritchie will get a second chance” when he is released around age 50.

Following his sentencing of Ritchie, Athey set Monday for a pre-trial hearing on charges the twins’ mother faces related to the case. A three-day trial has been set for April 8-10 for Tabitha Zimmerman, 29, on two counts of cruelty and injuries to children revolving around the prosecution theory that the violence of November 8, 2017, was a culmination of a pattern of abuse by Ritchie that the mother was aware of and allowed to continue.

Her attorney John Bell was a spectator at both Ritchie’s trial of December 10-11 and Friday’s sentencing hearing. Bell agrees with the Ritchie defense team on one aspect of the case, that older bruises found on the twins were a result of the toddler’s active lifestyle, horseplay and rough housing with each other, rather than a long-term pattern of physical abuse by Ritchie, at least any pattern of behavior the children’s mother was aware of.

Tabitha Zimmerman at time of her arrest on charges she failed to act on indications of a pattern of abusive behavior by her boyfriend toward her children. Courtesy Photo RSW Jail

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Two Dinwiddie, VA men arrested; firearms, felony assault, outstanding warrants & more

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On Sunday, June 28th at approximately 02:21 AM, Deputy C. Clatterbuck, and Deputy R. Burleson conducted a traffic stop on Fort Valley Road in the area of the Shenandoah County line. During the stop, it was found that the driver of the vehicle was wanted out of another jurisdiction.

Another vehicle arrived at the scene that was traveling with the vehicle on the traffic stop. While Clatterbuck was interacting with the second vehicle, Clatterbuck heard a series of gunshots in the woods near him. After a few minutes, Clatterbuck heard a second round of gunshots in the woods closer to him. After investigation, it was found that the gunshots came from a male occupant of the second vehicle.

Dakota M. Davis, 20, of Dinwiddie, VA. Photo courtesy of RSW Jail.

The male occupant, identified as Dakota M. Davis, 20, of Dinwiddie, VA, was taken into custody a short time later without incident. Davis was charged with 4.1-305 Underage Possession of Alcohol, 18.2-460 Obstruction of Justice, 18.2-56.1 Reckless Handling of a Firearm, 18.2-57 Felony Assault of LEO X2, and 18.2-388 Public Intoxication.

Michael C. Scites, 38, of Dinwiddie, VA. Photo courtesy of RSW Jail.

The male driver, identified as Michael C. Scites, 38, of Dinwiddie, VA, was taken into custody without incident. Scites was charged with 46.2-301 Driving Suspended/Revoked 3rd or subsequent offense, 18.2-250.1 possession of marijuana, and served with his outstanding warrants out of Henrico County.

Both Davis and Scites were held without bond and are currently at RSW Regional Jail. Warren County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Front Royal Police Department, Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office and Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office we would like to thank these agencies for their assistance.

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Virginia Beach man arrested on charge of transmitting in interstate commerce a threat to injure or kill U.S. Senator

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Dylan Stephen Jayne, 37, of Virginia Beach, Va., was arrested yesterday on a federal criminal complaint and charged with one count of transmitting a threat via interstate commerce by leaving a voicemail message and threatening to kill a United States Senator. Photo courtesy of Western Tidewater Regional Jail.

A Virginia man, who allegedly transmitted a threat via interstate commerce to kill a United States Senator, was arrested yesterday in Virginia Beach on a federal criminal complaint. United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen and U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven A. Sund made the announcement today following the defendant’s initial court appearance this afternoon.

Dylan Stephen Jayne, 37, of Virginia Beach, Va., was arrested yesterday on a federal criminal complaint and charged with one count of transmitting a threat via interstate commerce by leaving a voicemail message and threatening to kill a United States Senator.

According to court documents, on the morning of September 2, 2019, Jayne called the Abingdon office of United States Senator Mark Warner and threatened to kill the Senator regarding Jayne’s perceived lack of receiving Social Security payments.

The investigation of this matter is being conducted by the United States Capitol Police, and the Burlington, Vermont Police Department. The Virginia Beach Police Department and U.S. Marshals Service assisted in the apprehension of the suspect. Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer R. Bockhorst is prosecuting the case for the United States.

A criminal complaint is only a charge and not evidence of guilt. All defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty.

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Two Frederick County residents charged in Bealton murder investigation

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On Sunday, June 21, the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office announced two additional arrests in the suspicious death investigation of a woman found deceased in Bealton on June 18. As previously reported, on Saturday, June 20, Melody Dawn Glascock, 54, was arrested by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office on charges of 1st Degree Murder and Obstruction of Justice, concealing evidence of a felony. Glascock was initially being held without bond in Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren (RSW) Regional Jail.

Now lead investigative agency Fauquier County has announced that two Stephens City residents have been arrested by Frederick County authorities on charges related to the Bealton murder investigation.

James Samuel Embrey III, 20, and Maria Dawn Embrey, 40, have been charged with Conspiracy to Commit Murder and are being held in the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center.

James Samuel Embrey III, 20

Maria Dawn Embrey, 40

The Fauquier Sheriff’s release states that “It is alleged that Melody Dawn Glascock conspired with both James Embrey and Maria Embrey to commit the murder of Kelly Marie Gray,” the release states.

Previously the deceased Bealton individual had only been identified as a 40-year-old woman with severe trauma to her abdomen area. The Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office report on the response to Gray’s residence states, “On Thursday, June 18, 2020, deputies responded to Gray’s apartment where she was found by a family member suffering from severe trauma to the torso. The homicide investigation quickly revealed suspects.”

Melody Dawn Glascock

It was also announced that Glascock was transferred over the weekend to the Fauquier County Adult Detention Center in Warrenton, where she remains incarcerated without bond. She now faces a third charge, conspiracy to commit murder.

UPDATE: Fauquier Sheriff ties Warren murder arrest to Bealton investigation

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UPDATE: Fauquier Sheriff ties Warren murder arrest to Bealton investigation

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According to the RSW Jail website, a woman, Melody Dawn Glascock, 54, was booked into the facility at 8:34 a.m. Saturday morning, June 20, on a charge of 1st Degree Murder, non-capital, and Obstruction of Justice – the destruction of evidence of a felony. The Warren County Sheriff’s Office was listed as the arresting agency.

More on this story as information becomes available.

UPDATE:
The Fauquier Sheriff’s Office has issued a press release tying the arrest of Melody D. Glascock in Warren County to their investigation of a suspicious death in Bealton on June 18. The release also notes that Glascock is a resident of Marshall, but did not add any detail to the circumstance of her arrest in Warren County.

Marshall resident Melody Dawn Glascock was apprehended in Warren County related to a Fauquier Sheriff’s Office investigation of a suspicious death in Bealton on June 18. – Photo/RSW Jail

Below is the Saturday morning, June 20 Fauquier release, followed by their June 19 release on the Bealton investigation:

FCSO NEWS RELEASE UPDATE
June 20, 2020 11:30 a.m.

UPDATE: An arrest has been made in the Thursday night homicide in Bealeton. MELODY DAWN GLASCOCK, 54, of Marshall, has been charged by Fauquier County detectives with 1st-degree murder and obstruction of justice. Glascock was apprehended this morning in Warren County and is currently held with no bond in the RSW Regional Jail. More information will be forthcoming.

FCSO NEWS RELEASE
June 19, 2020

BEALETON HOMICIDE UNDER INVESTIGATION

Deputies responded to a suspicious death at approximately 7 p.m. on Thursday night, June 18, 2020. Upon arriving in the 6300 block of Village Center Drive deputies located a deceased female in an apartment. The 40-year-old victim was apparently found when a family member returned home.

The victim suffered severe trauma to the torso. An autopsy will be conducted at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Manassas, VA, on Friday, June 19, 2020, to determine the exact cause and manner of death. This incident is currently under investigation as a homicide.

Further information will be provided as it becomes available. Anyone with information about this homicide is asked to contact the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office at 540-347-3300.

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Rappawan, Campbell Realty civil hearing date set; April Petty, Jesse Poe pre-trial hearing request under consideration by court

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Although neither she nor her attorney was present live or virtually for scheduled Economic Development Authority civil case hearings Thursday morning, June 18, Jennifer McDonald’s presence was apparent throughout defense motion’s hearing arguments in the cases of defendants April Petty and Jesse Poe.

Prior to those arguments a hearing date of July 30, beginning at 8:30 a.m. was set for pre-trial motions in the cases of Rappawan Inc., and principal William Vaught Jr. and Century 21, Campbell Realty Inc., and principals Walter and Jeannette Campbell. Attorneys for those defendants were among the few physically present in the older, larger Warren County Circuit Courtroom with Judge Bruce D. Albertson Thursday morning.

The Campbells were represented by Warrenton attorney Peter Hansen; Rappawan and Vaught by local real estate attorney Joseph Silek Jr., though it appeared Hansen might also have a hand in the Rappawan case. However, he said he would defer to Silek on the availability of the July 30 date for that client.

It was noted that coming motions reply dates were July 10 for a plaintiff response to defense motions, and July 24 for a defense reply to the plaintiff’s assertions in their reply.

‘They didn’t know’
In arguing for a pre-trial plea in bar hearing for his clients, April Petty and Jesse Poe – the latter not to be confused with fellow civil defendant Donald Poe – attorney William Shmidheiser III repeatedly told the court he was not disputing lead civil defendant Jennifer McDonald’s embezzlement of the amounts of money cited in real estate home purchases McDonald achieved for his clients, rather he was asserting his clients had no knowledge that that money (totaling $410,000) had been embezzled.

While not directly involved in Thursday’s EDA civil hearings, Jennifer McDonald, left with then EDA Board Chair Patty Wines, cast a long shadow over two defendants’ arguments for a pre-trial hearing chance to plead their innocence. Their arguments, who would have suspected a successful local real estate agent and Economic Development executive of criminal embezzlement? Royal Examiner File Photo/Roger Bianchini

So, Shmidheiser told Judge Albertson his clients should have the right to present their cases to him at a plea and bar hearing prior to the primary civil trial alleging a conspiracy among all 15 defendants to benefit from McDonald crimes, admitted or alleged, in an amount totaling over $21 million dollars.

The amount of embezzled money he cited involving his clients was $125,000 in Petty’s transaction and $285,000 in Jesse Poe’s. Their attorney said his clients recruited McDonald to be their real estate agent for home purchases from knowing her through family connections. Poe dated a niece of McDonald’s at the time, his attorney said; and Petty knew McDonald as the successful “golden child” of relatives she knew socially.

Shmidheiser said that if his clients could be proven to not have been involved in the larger conspiracy alleged by the plaintiff in a pre-trial plea and bar hearing, it would serve the “judicial economy” in simplifying and speeding up the primary case.

Arguing for the plaintiff EDA after being introduced to the court over phone connection by lead Sands Anderson/EDA attorney Cullen Seltzer, was Sean Hudson. Hudson countered the defense “judicial economy” argument, noting that Schmidheiser’s clients weren’t denying that embezzled funds had been used in their real estate transaction, only that they weren’t aware it was embezzled at the time of their home purchases with former EDA Executive Director McDonald acting as their real estate agent.

EDA attorney Hudson also noted that neither Petty nor Poe had offered to return the embezzled money utilized in their home purchases; adding his firm had not yet been able to depose either defendant, a conversation between plaintiff and defendants that could lead to a pre-trial settlement offer.

Defense counsel Shmidheiser countered that once involved, he had offered multiple dates for depositions of his clients but that an impasse with Sands Anderson over a location for those depositions – the law firm’s Richmond home base or Warren County where the case will be heard – had occurred.

Their attorney also noted that neither April Petty nor Jesse Poe had been indicted by the EDA Criminal Case Special Grand Jury after testifying before it, in Petty’s case at least, multiple times. That indicated the grand jury believed his clients’ stories, Schmidheiser asserted to the court.

The Warren County Courthouse is cranking back up toward a late-pandemic caseload, though still partly by remote hook up and masked, social distancing inside.

“She would like some closure. She has a lot at stake,” her attorney said, pointing to her federal emergency management job.

As the arguments concluded, Judge Albertson returned to the oft-touched topic of “fairness” and asked plaintiff counsel if he thought it “fair” that the court is allowed to at least “consider a pre-trial resolution for two or more defendants”.

After a long pause, Hansen offered that he thought keeping the defendants in the primary civil action would achieve the best chance of a pre-trial settlement, ultimately serving to streamline the case to the desired “judicial economy”.

Judge Albertson then took the arguments under advisement.

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Update: State Police add detail on Saturday night high-speed pursuit

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In a press release issued Wednesday, June 17, shortly before 3 p.m. the Culpeper Office of the Virginia State Police added detail to the circumstance of the high speed chase through three counties the previous Saturday evening. As reported in Royal Examiner, that chase and apprehension led to multiple charges, criminal and traffic, against 33-year-old Bryan Douglas Walters of Luray.

Walters is currently being held without bond in the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren County (RSW) Regional Jail.

Bryan D. Walters – Photo/RSW Jail

The full text of the VSP release, which varies slightly on information gathered from the Warren County Sheriff’s Office on Front Royal Police involvement, is presented below:

“A Luray, Va. man is behind bars on multiple charges in two counties after he fled law enforcement Saturday (June 13, 2020). Virginia State Police have charged Bryan D. Walters, 33, in Warren County with two felony counts of assault on law enforcement, one felony count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, and one misdemeanor count of obstruction of justice. In Frederick County, state police have charged Walters with one felony count of eluding law enforcement, and one count of driving while revoked.

“The pursuit Saturday was initiated by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office. As it continued north on Route 11 entering Frederick County at approximately 8:29 p.m., state police took over the pursuit and continued behind the fleeing 2012 Jeep Patriot, until it finally crashed into the median on I-66 at the 2.8-mile marker in Warren County. The driver, Walters, was taken into custody without further incident. Walters was transported to RSW Regional Jail and held without bond.

“During the course of the pursuit Walters struck two state police cruisers. One of the state police troopers suffered minor injuries in that crash.

“The pursuit reached speeds of up to 100 mph.

“Please contact the Warren County Sheriff’s Office for details on why/how the pursuit was initiated and their charges.”

Luray man held without bond following lengthy high-speed chase

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