Illinois bound: Halfaday goes home
The former City Council candidate whose repeated threats to his ex landed him back in jail on probation violations is headed back to Illinois with his mom, a judge ordered June 28.
James Halfaday ran for City Council in 2011 as the city's first Native American, openly gay candidate. He came in last in the Democratic primary, and was later charged with felony election fraud for signing a declaration that he lived in Charlottesville when he resided in Albemarle County.
Halfaday was convicted and sentenced to serve 60 days in jail with four-years, 10-months suspended in July 2012. He'd barely gotten out of jail in October when he began contacting his former domestic partner, despite a protective order and instructions from his probation officer to not be in touch.
After putting a 13-minute video on YouTube that ends with the couple's pet cat Volley being euthanized, Halfaday, 33, was arrested in January. At a probation violation hearing on February 5, the judge agreed to ship Halfaday back to his hometown in Dunferline, Illinois, and reminded him to not contact the former partner. On February 14, Halfaday was sentenced to four months while the transfer to Illinois could be arranged. But before that could happen, Halfaday picked up another charge for probation violation for threatening the ex again through his own mother and other family members and friends.
Halfaday's calls from the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail were recorded, according to an April 29 letter from Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman to Judge Edward Hogshire. In a March 18 phone call to his mother, Halfaday demanded that she contact the ex and demand $500 to get Halfaday's driver's license reinstated, or he would do it himself April 30 when he got out of jail. "He is literally going to get hurt," Halfaday warned his mother, according to Chapman's letter.
And in an April 4 letter, Halfaday threatened to leave Cookie, the couple's dog, in the car if he was arrested for driving on a suspended license, said Chapman's letter, which also quoted a misspelled homosexual slur.
A thinner Halfaday was in court June 28 to plead guilty to the second probation violation, and his mother, Anna Halfaday, testified that Illinois was ready to take on his probation. "She's prepared to take him home today," said his attorney, public defender Elizabeth Murtagh.
Anna Halfaday, who had driven 14 hours, assured the judge that if her son asked her to contact his ex or decided to leave her home, she'd notify his Illinois probation officer.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Joe Platania asked the judge to remind Halfaday of the importance of following the court order. "It's not complicated," said the prosecutor. "Just don't contact the person who doesn't want to be contacted."
Judge Hogshire noted the "highly inappropriate threatening behavior Mr. Halfaday engaged in that got him in this mess." He was sentenced to time served— 55 days— and the judge upped his probation to four years. He also ordered Halfaday to get mental health and substance abuse treatment and cautioned him that the order would be "strictly enforced."
"I hope Mr. Halfaday will take all that seriously," Hogshire said, "and take the opportunity to start a new life."Read more on: james halfaday