Free man: Michael Hash out on bond

Less than a month after a federal judge tossed the capital murder conviction of Michael Wayne Hash, who served a dozen years in prison for a crime it now seems he didn't commit, a judge in Culpeper Circuit Court took less than five minutes to decide Hash should go home.

On March 14, Judge Jay T. Swett ordered Hash released on a $10,000 unsecured bond, paving the way for the now 30-year-old man to spend his first night at home with family since he was a teenager.

Hash was 15 years old when his 74-year-old neighbor Thelma Scroggins was shot four times in the head. It was four years before Hash was arrested, and during that time, Hash's attorneys assert, prosecutors and investigators behaved improperly, and possibly illegally.

Among the alleged actions Roanoke-based federal judge James Turk called "outrageous misconduct" in his February 28 ruling: coaching witnesses, hiding exculpatory materials, and what Albemarle County Sheriff Chip Harding uncovered: that officials secretly arranged to place Hash in a Charlottesville cell block for one night with a "professional snitch"— then lied about it under oath. Culpeper Commonwealth's Attorney Gary Close resigned March 12 as the allegations against him became public.

Following Thursday's brief hearing, Hash was unhandcuffed and unshackled outside the Culpeper County Courthouse in preparation for his ride back to Charlottesville, where he collected his belongings from the jail and arrived outside to an emotional welcome from friends and family.

"I always knew it would happen," said his mother Pamela Hash. "I'm overwhelmed."

While Hash is spending his first night with family, the special prosecutor appointed to the case is reviewing the evidence and must decide whether to retry him or free him for good.

Hash's next court date is April 16.

Read more on: Michael Hash


One of the best local stories so far this year. So happy for this guy. Now we need to sort out the prosecutor and law enforcement who lied and put him behind bars in the first place. There is no excuse for this abuse of power and they should have their freedom taken from them as they took this young man's freedom from him. Godspeed Mr. Hash.

In high school I knew a man named Ray Krone, he worked for my father and we were good friends. He was wrongly convicted of murder in Arizona and sentenced to death. After 12 years and several trials he was exonerated when the actual killer was found in prison. He was convicted on nothing more than contrived bite-mark evidence and the lies of state experts. This sort of thing happens a lot more than we might like to think. We should be ever vigilent to make damn sure this doesn't happen.

PODCAST: Albemarle Sheriff Chip Harding with the behind-the-scenes story of Hash's release:

If Hash is innocent? Then who did it? I don't know the whole story, I saw on NBC29 that the victim's family said he was there with two others, and he was the fall guy. Maybe the same dilegence to get him off, should now be redirected to solving the case and getting the real killer.

I'm just wondering what in the heck ever happened to Gasbag? Seriously, a law enforcement related story and no commentary from the Gasbag himself?? What happened??!

What better excuse do we need to get rid of state sponsored premeditated murder, otherwise know as capital punishment. All other developed nations have, whats our problem? OH, they have put the guilt and shame complexes behind them, you know, those things that the Pilgrims brought with from England 4 hundred freaking years ago. The rest of the world has got over the Bible, why can't we?

@perspective, I for one do believe in the death penalty in some cases. Killing of children, premeditated murder, mass killings, serial killers, intentional killing of police officers and treason.

These cases were before DNA could absolutely convict or exonerate a suspect. However, in this particular case and others (which are being reviewed by the Innocence Project and many other organizations) there has been serious issues with those involved in law enforcement. They should be punished.

You better not include Saudi Arabia in your "countries" - there is is an 'eye for an eye', you killed you are killed and your body is left to rot out in the town square as an example. Your family must request permission to remove your body and can not until that permission is granted. Yet, their murder rate is what? Their crime rate is what? Look it up. Not saying it is the best way but it may be the most effective way.

Its awfull easy to pull the plug on some one, even if the crime is as atrocious as infanticide. Sometimes I wonder if after a conviction the perp should be handed over to the victims family for disposition. But in light of mans tendencies to lie, cheat and steal, to get a conviction, then we have to be better than that. Besides, isn't the hypocrisy of capital punishment a bit to much to swallow? Even here in the Bible belt I don't quite get the message of premeditated murder by the state and how that stacks up to the Bible. Somethin wrong with that picture.

I don't have an issue with the death penalty, but don't necessarily agree with those who tout it as a deterrent. In my opinion, as it pertains to the crimes that call for it, most are committed under one of three scenarios: either planned so as not to get caught (mindset of "won't get caught") or crime of passion (impulse w/ wanton disregard of either parties well-being or consequence) or, lastly, insanity. Now again I say most, in my opinion, not all. Under those scenarios it doesn't really function as a deterrent.

Beyond that- if we can fix the judicial system to ensure, absolutely, that it's only applied in cases of 100% guilt- then I'm fine with it. Until then, and based on what we've seen in recent years, we'd do well to continue to re-examine those prosecuted, the system and it's players.

I think if you do some homework you will find that the death penalty in unfairly biased against the poor. You get the justice you can afford in this country. Mr. Hash wasn't released due to DNA evidence, but he was wrongly incarcerated because of a dishonest system, at least that's how it looks at this point. He was given the justice he could afford...a public defender who sold him down the river. Great example of getting the defense you can afford.

They are an in effect article.I think this is one of the most significant information for me.I hope many people will like it.Have a good time!

Once again Albemarle should be proud of the role Sheriff Chip Harding had in establishing justice. He just keeps on doing great work in important cases. Thank you Sheriff Harding.