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Loudoun County Attorneys > Blog > Criminal Defense > Workplace Food Dispute Ends in Seventy-Year Prison Sentence

Workplace Food Dispute Ends in Seventy-Year Prison Sentence


Nearly three years after a man brutally murdered a colleague who stole his lunch from the break room refrigerator, the judge closed the book on a chilling case.

In April 2021, a 58-year-old man took the defendant’s lunch from the office fridge at the Virginia Target they both worked at.

The next day, the defendant bought a hammer and two knives from that Target and spent a day “training for the murder,” according to his statement. Then, the defendant lied in wait for the victim in the parking lot, stabbed and bludgeoned him to death with the hammer, and then ran away. He later turned himself in and confessed.

Later, during his sentencing hearing, the man threatened to kill or hurt other people if he wasn’t given the harshest possible sentence. So, the judge sentenced him to 100 years with 30 years suspended for first-degree murder.

“In this case, because of the unique and self-proclaimed danger the defendant continues to pose to the community, today’s sentence was a necessary outcome for maintaining public safety,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano said in a statement.

The Criminal Justice Process

We use the term “process” because criminal justice in Loudoun County is not a unified “system.” Instead, the process has many independent parts that usually move very slowly.

The process starts with pretrial detention and, preferably, pretrial release. The presumption of innocence, the central tenet of a criminal defense, basically doesn’t apply in pretrial detention cases. Most defendants in these situations are so anxious to “get it over with” that they accept the prosecutor’s first plea bargain offer, no matter how bad it is.

County sheriffs usually supervise pretrial detention. They usually supervise pretrial release programs as well. They impose certain requirements on defendants, such as remaining in the county, avoiding further legal trouble, and appearing at all required court dates.

If the defendant violates a condition of bail, a Leesburg criminal defense lawyer can usually enroll the defendant in an alternative pretrial release program.

Next, the case usually goes back and forth between assistant district attorney prosecutors and the arresting law enforcement agency. Frequently, prosecutors need more evidence on one element of an offense, such as the “driving” element of a DUI, to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

These agencies usually don’t communicate with each other very well. So, the more times a Leesburg criminal defense lawyer delays the process and causes a back-and-forth between police and prosecutors, the greater the chances of success become.

Technically, the judge oversees this entire process. However, most judges don’t take any action in these cases, other than approving the final plea bargain agreement between prosecutors and defense lawyers.

The delay in this process is frustrating to everyone. But, delay usually hurts the party with the burden of proof. So, delay is good, at least to an extent.

The Sentencing Process

This phase is very short in misdemeanor cases. Usually, the judge pronounces sentence immediately, or almost immediately, after the defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty.

Felony sentencing is different. Probation officers usually prepare a thorough pre-sentence report and submit it to the judge. This report might alter the terms of a plea bargain arrangement or sway the judge one way or another.

Sex crime cases are a good example. After a guilty plea or verdict, probation officers extensively investigate the matter and assign a risk factor to the defendant. The higher the risk of reoffense, the harder it is to remove the defendant’s name from te sex offender list.

Once again, this delay isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A Leesburg criminal defense lawyer advocates for defendants during the sentencing process. As a result the final plea bargain agreement is usually more defendant friendly.

Count on a Dedicated Loudoun County Lawyer

There’s a big difference between an arrest and a conviction in criminal law. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Leesburg, contact Simms Showers, LLP, Attorneys at Law. Convenient payment plans are available.



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