I-64 shootings: Slade Woodson pleads-- for new attorney

Slade Allen Woodson was expected to arrive in court this morning to plead guilty to some or all of the 15 felony counts he racked up from a March 27 shooting spree that closed Interstate 64. Instead, he had a change of heart about his counsel after talking to an unidentified lawyer over the weekend.

"I want to ask for a new attorney," said a clean-shaven Woodson, 20, sitting beside his court-appointed attorney, Public Defender Jim Hingeley. "I don't feel I've had sufficient counseling."

Woodson mentioned not receiving documents he'd requested,and noted that the case will "determine the rest of my life."

Hingeley told Albemarle Circuit Court Judge Cheryl Higgins that it would be inappropriate to detail the things he and Woodson had discussed, but said, "I disagree with most of what Mr. Woodson says."

Hingeley told the court he found out Monday that Woodson had been in contact with another attorney, but he declined to identify the interloping lawyer.

On November 10 in Waynesboro, Woodson was sentenced to two years for firing into buildings, including one that was occupied, during a beer-fueled, orange Gremlin-driving rampage with 16-year-old Crozet teen Brandon Dawson.

"I made numerous trips to Middle River Jail," said Hingeley. "I counseled him extensively about this case. I made a large investment of my time," he added, which amounted to "very extensive work over many weeks." Hingeley has represented Woodson since he was arraigned eight months ago.

Judge Higgins asked Woodson whether he needed more time, "or is there a problem with the relationship?"

"I believe there is a problem with the relationship," said Woodson, who told the judge he felt like he was being prosecuted rather than defended by his lawyer. "I don't feel comfortable at all to put my life in his hands."

Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford told the court that Hingeley and his staff had spent hours in her office reviewing documents.

Higgins ruled that Hingeley is out, and she appointed Jessica Smith to represent Woodson, and a new trial date will be scheduled December 18.

Hingeley confirmed that Woodson was scheduled to plead guilty. As for the change in counsel, "It's certainly unusual," said Hingeley. "It doesn't happen a lot, and it happens more often in tough cases. This is a tough case."

Update December 5: A statement inaccurately attributed to Hingeley has been corrected in this version, as well as one that misstated which lawyer had not been to see Woodson in jail.


The only thing tough about this case is that a good ol boy white guy from the county got caught doing something incredibly stupid and deadly and now thinks he shouldn't have to pay the price and that a jury of his white peers will let him off. As a white law abiding man I take offense. Let him rot in jail and let's send the correct message to the public that race is not relevant in sentencing and punishment. I'm not saying make an example of him, but use the same guidelines that would apply were he to have been a non-white. Lady Justice needs her blindfold.


Yikes, bee-atch justice done lost her blindfold a long time ago! Race is moot here! Give a poorly educated guy named Slade too many Old Milwaukees, a gun and--worst of all--an orange Gremlin, and bad things are going to happen. Slade-o's a sure master of understatement: "I don't feel I've had enough counseling." God, if I had a dime for every time I said that to my shrink. I say...blame society as a whole with Charles Manson as a contributor, put him into "house arrest"...I think a run-down single wide with a half-inflated, algae-ridden above ground pool in the front and a lime green Maverick sans wheels on cinder blocks on the side might be just the right "house."

Maybe he's afraid that Hingesley will "lose" him for a couple of weeks and blame it on Paul Garrett.

How interesting that is perfectly acceptable to mock Southern accents as if they are undeniably indicative of unintelligence and bigotry. Not only is it hypocritical to defend the rights of African-Americans by insulting those of Caucasians but the mere suggestion that as long as Woodson appears before an all White jury he will be acquitted is remarkably imbecilic. I'm curious as to whether your comment hoping Woodson will "rot in jail" would be at all permissible if talking about a Black defendant. Furthermore, if you had any basic understanding of the precedents established in the criminal justice system in central Virginia regarding these types of cases with defendants with the criminal history of Woodson you'll find there is hardly a discrepancy in sentencing as pertaining to race. So while you may feel your lofty "Lady Justice" admonishment was well-warranted I can assure you it was nothing but a pitiful attempt to appear to be somewhat educated on this subject matter.

How Interesting that you hide behind 'case law' without citing any. Apparently thou hast thine head up thy ass or thou wouldst know that African Americans committing terrorism don't get a second chance. Hmm, how interesting.

Yikes, not only do you appear to lack intelligence but maturity as well. To rebut simply, you are the one making the outrageous claim that all cases involving African Americans committing acts of terrorism are not given a "second chance," whatever that means (couldn't remember the word 'appeal?'). So if you would like to cite any cases in which the defendant is acquitted or given lighter sentencing for being white, I encourage you to try to find them. As a Black law-abiding man, and a one-time criminal justice lawyer, I can assure you with full confidence that once you realize how incredibly ill-matched for any argument in which you wish to engage with me, you'll discontinue feigning expertise in a situation in which you apparently have but a miniscule understanding.

And if you think it's classy to get angry and write profanity on a news website about a correction I make concerning your ignorant and blatantly dogmatic remarks, I cannot say that I would like to have a person of your character defending the rights of African Americans.

Folks, stop sniping! That's Slade's purview. I am going to spank you both. How Interesting, is the sound card broken on my computer or something? I heard no Southern Accent (by the way, a pretty good Tom Petty album, if you choose to listen). Additionally, you wax oxymoronically with the "law abiding...criminal justice lawyer line. And Yikes, if you insist on plying Latin on this fine site without italicizing your references, I will have the webmaster force you to listen to Latin music ad nauseum on an ad hoc basis since he owes me a quid pro quo. Now put that in your corpus delectus and let it germinate!