Guilty plea: Crider charges could be dropped at 21

news-franzen-criderAttorney David Franzen and Patrick Crider leave court June 8 while the judge considered Crider's plea overnight.

In a plea agreement that keeps him out of jail and allows the charges to be dropped when he turns 21, Patrick Crider, the former Western Albemarle High School student who was arrested in January for threatening on Facebook to kill four classmates and then himself, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of making threats.

According to Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Darby Lowe, the parents of the threatened teens "had a great concern he not be convicted as a felon," she told Judge Paul Peatross in court June 8.

"He did not have a gun," said Lowe. "He did not take steps to get one. I feel strongly this young man with no criminal record be given treatment."

She noted that Crider was barely 18 when he posted the January 13 threats on Facebook to kill four teens and then himself, and she told the court that Crider has undergone psychiatric evaluations.

"All have concluded Mr. Crider is not a threat to himself or others," said Crider attorney David Franzen, who urged the judge to keep Crider on "a short leash" until he's age 21.

Peatross took a night to read the psychological reports and returned to court June 9 to accept the plea that will allow Crider to avoid the five-year sentence that can follow a felony threat conviction.

Crider was arrested a day after threatening to kill the other Western Albemarle High teens on Facebook. Bail initially was denied, and he remained jailed until March 8.

Peatross inherited the case after Judge Cheryl Higgins determined–- via a bizarre hearing in which she had Crider play violin–- that she knew him and therefore had a conflict of interest. Crider was scheduled to enter a plea May 5, but Higgins closed the too-hot courtroom in Albemarle Circuit Court, postponing the hearing again to June 8 inside a Charlottesville courtroom.

Invoking Columbine, Judge Peatross noted to Crider, "You weren't intending to carry out the actions you said. If that weren't the case, I wouldn't accept this plea."

Among the conditions of the agreement, Crider will live with his mother, stay in school or employed, stay off social-networking sites like Facebook, and he's banned from contact with Albemarle County schools, especially Western Albemarle, except to get transcripts.

"I want him engaged in constructive activities, either at work or at school," ordered Peatross.

Lowe pointed out that threats to kill classmates have to be taken seriously. "We're balancing the need for safety and the need for rehabilitation," she says.

Through home schooling, Crider recently finished high school and should get a diploma this week, says his attorney, who pronounced his client regretful for the harm he's caused others.

"We're very pleased the judge accepted the plea," says Franzen. "We feel Patrick can now turn to his future."


"Blue blazer, khaki pants, oxford button collar shirt, is that some kind of charlottesville uniform????"

No, it's a WASP uniform.

Blue blazer, khaki pants, oxford button collar shirt, is that some kind of charlottesville uniform????

Wow, I was sure this was an Al Queda thing!

how do you know it was "hollow"?

Deleted by moderator.

I bet those over-protective, entitled wahs parents rose quite a stink trying to shelter their babies from a hollow, empty online threat. So typical of today's ridiculous fears, anxieties and over-reactions.

Nope, I'm not "one of those people," whoever they are. I couldn't pick Jim Camblos out of a police lineup.

Just call me an intrigued professional who has occasional business in Charlottesville and wonders often about the competence of individuals who have been entrusted with great power over the lives of other people.

Who the hell is JJ Malloy, what does he/she/it know, and why should we believe you?

Yes, you could. Cop shoppes have very unique and interesting methods by which to lay photo lineups in front of you, and they pretty much indicate which picture you are to pick out. :)

But I share the same concern as you do, individuals entrusted with great power by which to mess with others. And trust me, intentional misuse and abuse of these powers does take place. Not so much by judges, but at the lower levels of the food chain in the criminal justice system.


What I do know is that only the prosecution can have warrants sealed (there is the case of national security issues also-but that has nothing to do with this case). There are several reasons for this. The main ones are to protect an ongoing investigation and to avoid a tainted jury pool (esp in cases with much media attention).

This is from the Commonwealth's attorney on why he wants the warrants to stay sealed: "The public dissemination at this time of highly detailed information such as contained in the affidavit, the search warrant, and any return made thereon may prejudice the ability in any subsequent trial to select an impartial jury that is free form the influence of any pretrial publicity, especially information about specific evidence or potential evidence"

Yesterday they released some of the data. There is a hearing set later this month as some media outlets are pushing for the full warrants being unsealed.

Roman Lifson, an attorney for the media companies, argued that "generalized and unspecified fears" about jury selection and compromising the investigation were insufficient to justify the sealing orders. He said many higher profile cases have been tried before an unbiased jury that was properly vetted.

"We've heard absolutely no evidence that impanelling an impartial jury will be impossible in this case," Lifson said.

"Who the hell is JJ Malloy, what does he/she/it know, and why should we believe you?"

JJ Malloy seems to be someone who actually reads the news before commenting on it. "Interesting" to say the least that many of those who cry the loudest around here don't bother with that important first step.

Judge Cheryl Higgins does some curious things in the courtroom: getting suspects to play violin, issuing orders to seal the ought-to-be-public records in the lacrosse-killing case (she is a former law partner of the lead attorney defending the alleged killer).

I wonder how many times her rulings have been tossed aside on appeal?

C'mon Hook; do some of that investigative reporting.

Interesting, are you one of those people who are still upset because Cheryl Higgins came out on top in the selection process? I would much rather see her sitting up there than Jim Camblos. It's my opinion that Jim Camblos had a tendancy to believe EVERY word that came out of a cop's mouth. I don't think they pull the wool over Judge Higgin's eyes as easily though.

"issuing orders to seal the ought-to-be-public records in the lacrosse-killing case"

The prosecution doesn't want a tainted jury pool. They requested them to be sealed. No one else has that power.

Plus, they have been released (with some redacted info)