Tried as an adult? Controversy in Staunton over slaying charges

policecar3Staunton Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Robertson said Monday that he plans to try the as-yet unnamed 16-year-old suspect in the murder of a 26-year-old Staunton man last week as an adult.

Robertson told The News Leader in an interview that the decision to try the teen as an adult “is our call, and it’s certainly going to happen,” and an assistant in his office called the transfer to adult court “automatic.”

That hasn’t stopped local residents from taking to social media to debate the merits of trying the teen, a student at R.E. Lee High School in Staunton, in adult court. The bulk of comments have come down, not surprisingly, on the side of, basically, try him and fry him, but there have been points made that there is a juvenile-justice system for a reason, and it has to do with the capacity of children and teens to fully understand the consequences of their actions.

The story also has its bits of the salacious, with media reports that the teen has told investigators that he had been paid by the victim to perform sex acts, without an explanation as to any nexus between that claim and a possible motive to the murder.

Ultimately, the wisdom of trying the teen as an adult will not be determined by a prosecutor, but rather a jury. Don’t be surprised to see some dialing back on the charges as more details emerge in the case, not necessarily from adult back to juvenile court, since Robertson is nothing if not dogged once he has made his mind up, but based on the scant bit of knowledge that we have about the case now, it’s hard to say that we have an open-and-shut first-degree or capital murder case on our hands just yet.

Robertson, dogged as he is, will also want to make sure that he gets a conviction.

– Column by Chris Graham



augusta free press news
augusta free press news

UVA Basketball Fans!

uva basketball team of destiny
Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25. The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe, and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018 through to the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.

Dick Vitale on Team of Destiny: “This is a hoops story you will LOVE! Jerry and Chris capture the sensational and dramatic championship journey by Tony Bennett and his tenacious Cavalier team. UVA was Awesome Baby and so is this book!”

Ralph Sampson on Team of Destiny: “Jerry and Chris have lived and seen it all, even before my time. I highly recommend this book to every basketball fan across the globe. This story translates to all who know defeat and how to overcome it!”

Buy here.


Comments