Bail denied: Alleged abductor had booked hotel room
A judge denied bail Friday for James Kevin Key, the Palmyra man charged with attempted abduction of a toddler at Charlottesville Fashion Square mall on November 24. At issue was his rental of a hotel room for that evening.
Opposing bond, Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford repeatedly told Judge Frank Somerville that Key had a hotel room booked for the same night that he allegedly attempted to kidnap a two-year-old girl who was with her parents at Charlottesville Fashion Square.
If Lunsford was attempting to imply unspeakable horrors, defense counsel Bonnie Lepold offered a far more benign reason for the hotel– that he didn't want to make a post-party drive from Charlottesville back home to Palmyra, a Fluvanna County village about half an hour away. And she also explained Key's presence at the mall.
"The reason he was at the mall was to purchase clothing for a party," said Lepold, without offering any details about the alleged party during a videolink hearing at Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail before a Culpeper judge.
Lepold also argued that Key, 46, has a medical condition that may have caused his alleged criminal actions. She says he has been under a doctor's care since 2002 for seizures that render him "functional but not rational and reasonable."
"Many members of the community have witnessed these seizures," said Lepold, noting how Key had once been at a basketball game when a seizure left him "catatonic and staring" and– forgetting that he was the referee– trying to play defense in the game.
While Lepold requested that Key be granted house arrest in the residence in which he lives with his father, Lunsford disagreed.
"Immediately after the incident, he's saying, 'I was trying to move her out of the way,'" said Lunsford, disputing Lepold's description of Key as being "catatonic" and not remembering what happens when he has a seizure. "He's a danger to the community," said Lunsford.
"Even without the medical issue," said Judge Somerville, "the court would be holding Mr. Key. I do that in these conditions because I don't know how to protect the community."
The defense can return in a few days with a doctor's medical opinion to help inform the level of supervision Key needs, said the judge.
More than half a dozen of Key's family members gathered outside the jail after the November 30 hearing. While none would speak to a reporter on the record, one spoke earlier on condition of anonymity.
"Abduction is a very strong word," said the relative. "For those that know Kevin, they know this is out of character."
The family member says that Key has worked as a housekeeping supervisor at UVA since 1986 and has coached and refereed youth softball and basketball for Fluvanna Parks and Recreation for at least 10 years.
A preliminary hearing is set for January 7.
Correction 6:40pm on Key's date of employment with UVA.