James Halfaday's behavior became increasingly strange, and he posted this photo on what had formerly been his campaign site shortly before he pleaded guilty to election fraud.
A 13-minute video of pet cat Volley included its euthanization.
youtube screen capture
The prosecution laid out allegations of domestic abuse, stalking and pet euthanization to try to sway a judge to send former City Council candidate James Halfaday back to jail to serve his full five-year sentence for election fraud. Halfaday already pleaded guilty to a probation violation, and 19 people crowded into a conference room at Charlottesville Circuit Court February 5 for his sentencing.
The latest chapter in the bizarre history of Charlottesville's first openly gay candidate, who ran for Council while not living in the city, will keep James Halfaday in prison until he can be transferred back to the state from whence he came– Illinois.
Halfaday was sentenced to 60 days in jail last year for filing a false statement that he lived in the city, and upon his release, his probation officer ordered him in an October 4 letter to have no contact with his former domestic partner. That man claimed he got phone calls from Halfaday in jail, in which Halfaday threatened, "I'm going to effing kick your ass when I get out of here," probation/parole supervisor Jeff Lenert testified.
Lenert told the judge that he was aware of a protective order against Halfaday and the former partner's allegations of domestic abuse. When Halfaday was released from jail, Lenert said he got a "panicked" call from the victim, saying, "James is out. He hasn't changed a bit."
Lenert met with the ex, who was on the phone with Halfaday. "I could hear Halfaday screaming, making threats," said Lenert.
Halfaday also signed up for a free 15-day family tracker plan that used GPS to allow him to see his former partner's location, said Lenert. Despite the protective order, the victim was unable to get Sprint to cut off the tracker.
And then there was the euthanization of the former couple's cat, Volley, which Halfaday recorded and put on YouTube, said Lenert.
"The animal was sick," interjected Halfaday, who was quickly shushed by his attorney, public defender Jim Hingeley.
"At the end of the video," said Lenert, "a person directs the viewer to contact [the ex's] employer."
"He said he was going to take the dog to be euthanized, too," said Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Claude Worrell.
And Halfaday went to a funding website to raise money for Kermit, a dog he accused his partner of abandoning. Halfaday obtained warrants against former lover for animal cruelty, charges that were later dropped in Albemarle General District Court.
The move was reminiscent of Halfaday taking out a protective order against one of his opponent's campaign workers, and then having her arrested for allegedly violating it, another charge thrown out of court.
During his run for City Council, Halfaday falsely claimed to own Snap Fitness gym until the real owners stepped forward. He filed documents reporting a number of $499 campaign donations from donors who told the Hook they'd never given him money. During the August 2011 earthquake epicentered in Louisa, Halfaday claimed he was injured, which would make him the only person in Albemarle to be hurt, and posted a photograph of himself wearing a neck brace on Facebook.
The prison-striped uniform, handcuffs, and shackles were in sharp contrast to the suits Halfaday wore while running for Council– or at earlier court appearances.
The final straw that landed Halfaday back in jail January 11 for violating the no-contact order was an email he sent to his ex with photos of a pet dog they'd owned laying beside vomit.
"The more I hear, the more I'm persuaded this is a more complicated case than just violation of the October 4 no-contact letter," said Judge Jay Swett.
Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Worrell listed what he called "red flags" about Halfaday's behavior, such as harming pets the couple had together and disregarding basic barriers, in calling for the full suspended sentence of four years and 10 months to be reinstated.
He also referred to a psychological evaluation of Halfaday that said he had both narcissistic and antisocial personality disorders. "There's no treatment to stop an abuser from killing a partner," said Worrell. "Mr. Halfaday is a poor candidate for treatment because he has no insight into why he's doing this."
"Mr. Halfaday was not convicted of domestic abuse or violence," reminded his attorney Jim Hingeley. "We're here for a probation violation."
When his probation officer ordered him to get a mental health evaluation, Halfaday went to Region Ten December 14, and had an appointment for outpatient treatment January 14. He was unable to make that because he was in custody, said Hingeley. "Mr. Halfaday complied with what was expected of him."
The judge agreed to keep Halfaday in jail until he could be transferred to Illinois to live with his mother, but he had some reservations about the contents of the email the defendant sent to his former partner that also said, "I don't care what the probation officer says, I'm going to do what I want," Swett paraphrased.
"That's what concerns me," said Swett. "I'm not dissuaded that you are not a risk to [the victim]."
Ultimately, he agreed that getting Halfaday out of Virginia might be the best thing. "You've got baggage in Charlottesville," the judge noted.
Halfaday thanked the court. "I ask and pray for relief to continue counseling. I'm afraid if I were incarcerated I would not be able to continue."