Motion to run: Top prosecutor Lunsford seeks reelection

In 2007, Democratic newcomer Denise Lunsford upset four-term incumbent Jim Camblos with 53 percent of the vote to take the Albemarle commonwealth's attorney job.

The county's first female top prosecutor wants to hang on to what she calls "the most rewarding job I have ever had." Lunsford announced her reelection bid February 10 in front of the courthouse where she practices, with her family, staff, law-practicing Dems and a phalanx of police in attendance.

During her three years in office, Lunsford has handled several high-profile cases, such as I-64 shooter Slade Woodson, who closed down the interstate in March 2008 during a booze-soaked rampage. She tried a then-20-year-old murder case, charging Alvin "Butch" Morris for the 1988 slaying of Roger Lee Shifflett, whose wife Morris married, a case that ended with a hung jury.

And she decided not to prosecute the seven police officers who blasted cop-car-stealing Colby Eppard, 18, on the first day of 2010, and would not release the number of shots that killed Eppard. "That number was not relevant to my decision to not prosecute," she says. And in other election news, one of the officers who fired on the teen, Greene's Major Randall Snead, has announced his own run for Greene sheriff.

"When I was elected, I promised to provide the highest quality representation in cases important to our community, to improve the public's perception of the commonwealth's attorney's office, to enhance cooperation with law enforcement, and to reach out to members of our community to educate them on ways to live safer lives," said Lunsford.

In working to earn the confidence of the community, Lunsford said she's established guidelines to ensure consistency in prosecutions and her office is accessible to victims, defendants, attorneys and law enforcement.

"I have also worked to be as transparent as possible in my decision-making process and have written open letters outlining my analysis of certain cases important to the community," said Lunsford.

Like many other government offices, Lunsford has seen funding from Richmond chopped, and she took a $32,000 cut to the Board of Supervisors, threatening to stop prosecuting some misdemeanors if the county didn't cough up the difference. She also started collecting delinquent court costs and fines to supplement revenue.

So far, no Republicans have stepped forward to challenge Lunsford in November.

18 comments

Well, don't forget that the rapes that occur at UVA are in your jurisdiction.... the big debate with Camblos was that these rapists needed to be prosecuted. How many of those cases have been resolved?

And she decided not to prosecute the seven police officers who blasted cop-car-stealing Colby Eppard, 18, on the first day of 2010, and would not release the number of shots that killed Eppard

Transparent, indeed.

I have to say...why haven't those Eppard dashcam videos ever been released? They say it's their policy not to release dashcam videos because it is evidence in a criminal investigation, but the alleged criminal is DEAD, so that excuse rings a little hollow. It sure smells like a cover-up! She could at least tell us why we STILL can't see them...

Come on people, use your brain!

If 135 shots were fired, and 85 of them hit Eppard, do you think you would ever see the videos or written reports?

On the other hand, if 5 shots were fired, and 3 of them hit Eppard, do you think you would ever see the videos or written reports?

Lunsford is being very transparent.... it should be very transparent why you will NEVER see this information in this lifetime. :)

Local political figures appear on Politics Matters, a locally-produced cable show: http://bit.ly/polmatters. Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris is the current guest, interviewed by host Jan Paynter.

soooo.... the supposition is that these cops killed Eppard in cold blood and that Lunsford is covering it up?

The story is that he was shooting at them. The dashcam supposedly shows this. But because the public doesn't have access to the dashcam (why anyone would want to watch a young man get shot to death is beyond me), people assume there's a cover up.

So all these law enforcement officers shot a man in cold blood in broad daylight and THEN the County Attorney chose to cover it up after watching the video tape? Really?

This isn't Chicago, people. Nor is it that movie with Samuel Jackson and Kevin Spacey where Samuel Jackson gets a accused of shooting into a crowd of people and the US ambassador tries to destroy the videotape that would exonerate him. This is a small town and if anyone wants to seriously suggest that Denise Lunsford would actively cover up a cold-blooded murder I suggest they put their accusation in writing and send a letter to the FBI.

There is not a single person with any evidence that the Eppard shooting didn't go down exactly as law enforcement says. None.

But people choose to believe he was shot down in cold blood. Why do people believe this? Here's my theory: these people have an over active imagination or watch too much television or have a chip on their shoulder regarding law enforcement or all of the above.

Not Chicago, huh? I guess I have a chip on my shoulder? Even though I have evidence that tapes have been intentionally destroyed in this area in the past? :)

I will agree though, it makes no difference how many times Eppard was shot. 25 bullets will make you just as dead as 100 will.

The Eppard incident is such a tragedy whether it was warranted or not--to see a young man that troubled is saddening. To hear of the "over-kill" is even more troubling. I don't even her for the decision she had to make.

I think there was probably a justification to use deadly force against him at some point, though the goal is SUPPOSED to be to "stop" the person...not necessarily to kill the person. And I dang sure don't think it played out the way the police are claiming it played out. I think they went on a feeding frenzy and the ugly side of them came out. When one civilian punches another, the victim can throw a punch back and no one would call it battery; if he strikes back with a baseball bat though, it is excessive force and it IS called a battery. These officers stepped into a dark area, I think, and did use excessive force, but also let an ugly dog off the chain. And if these officers can't keep that kind of dog on the chain, they probably don't need to be in the business in the first place. It would be nice if she would even tell us if SHE has reviewed the dashcam tapes because her letter is FAR from clear on that point, and if she is just taking the officers' word and the finding of the state police review as to how it played out, she is very naive. They don't have to play bullets piercing skin on the news, but they could release some edited footage that confirms whether he ever stood up out of the car...a claim I find very suspicious. I doubt he was shot down in cold blood, but I think there is a lot about the police version that is suspicious. And anyone who isn't troubled by the shady fly-by-night way in which the police tried to have the police car destroyed without notice to anyone is a naive fool too. If the Eppards sue the police for wrongful death, they may be entitled to an "adverse inference" jury instruction on this point. Anyone who knowingly destroys evidence that could be relevant to a civil claim that clearly might exist is presumed to have been hiding it from being USED as evidence. Anyway, @Meanwhile, a Kevin Spacey movie is more likely than the physics-bending Wachowski Brothers movie this would have had to have been for Eppard to pull some of the shotgun magic they are claiming HE pulled!

Go Denise!

A Friend, first off, I agree with pretty much everything you said above.

But then, you have to look at the other side of the coin too. If a person steals a cop shoppe car and taunts the cops on their own radio system by God, all bets are out the window instantly. In this case you even had a cop from another jurisdiction following the chase and joining in the massacre because it was his car that was stolen (it's even more troubling to realize this same person is now running for sheriff!). There was no way in the world this kid was going to get off with a few gunshot wounds and survive. Just wasn't going to happen.

Wishing Denise Lunsford the very best in her reelection. She does an outstanding job for the community and we are lucky to have her!

So if you think Denise is covering up or not procesecuting cases that should be (and I am not saying that this isn't true)....then use your powers in the "VOTE"....don't vote for her. Campaign against her, campaign for the other guy/gal. This can be the loudest statement you can have. However, has anyone else stepped up to the plate to run against her yet? I haven't heard so I am asking.

If , to enhance cooperation with law enforcement, what she really meant was that she will look the other way when LE executes those who display contempt for their authority, then I have to say she has kept her word. If, to give transparency, what she meant was that she would keep secret all information that would cast doubt on LE's versions of events, I have to say again that she has kept her word.
For someone who ran for office criticizing their opponent because he did not prosecute a women who killed 3 people, 2 of them children, I have to say she is a hypocrite, and should be ashamed of herself, and I hope someone with real morals and ethics will run for this position.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Very disappointing term. Very disappointing person...
I had hoped for better. The police in this area are very well supported in the mistakes they make. If the DA does not hold them responsible, who can? Someone I hope will step up.

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She doesn't return phone calls. Don't hire her for private attorney or Commonwealth's attorney. Good busness people return calls or at least have a secretary follow up.