One of the victims in the May 3 triple-slaying in Greene County was 25-year-old Charlottesville resident Dustin Tyler Knighton, a man who appears to be a self-taught artist who wrote frankly about life and art during a five-year prison stint.
"Sometimes I think to myself, I had to go to prison to find out that I could draw," Knighton wrote on his biography at fineartamerica.com.
The other victims were 26-year-old Brian Robert Lee Daniels of Charlottesville man and 26-year-old Lisa Hwang, no address given. On May 6, suspect Taybronne Altereik White taken into custody charged with various offenses stemming from an allegedly related home invasion.
City court records indicated that Knighton's criminal career began when the then 18-year-old was arrested for an alleged strong-arm robbery of the wallet and watch of a man named Adam Vineyard on June 14, 2003. Then, just five days later, Knighton allegedly stole a 1985 Oldsmobile Cutlass from Belen Martinez. He pleaded to reduced charges of grand larcency and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.
But then came September 21, 2003, when Knighton allegedly participated in "assault and battery by mob." The highly-publicized battery on two UVA students near the corner of 17th Street and Gordon Avenue caused bloggers to go wild with accusations that the attackers chose victims with white or Asian ethnicity. Although he appeared immersed in hip-hop culture, was reportedly a member of the "D-Block" gang, and, according to his court file, used an alias of "John Carr," Knighton– arrested at the corner of 5th and Dice Streets– appeared to be white.
Albemarle County court records also show that Knighton was found guilty of the felony of accessory to malicious wounding. On December 23, 2008, he was released on supervised probation and reported that he'd gotten some work doing boat detailing at Lake Anna as well as some day work via the West Main Street office of the Labor Ready temporary service. Yet he failed to make any victim restitution payments or cover his fines and court costs.
Another strike against Knighton came in the summer of 2009, when he allegedly violated his probation by getting pulled over for suspected driving under the influence and driving on a suspended license. Although he reported the infractions to his parole officer the next day, he was back in jail. It wasn't the first time he allegedly misbehaved at an inopportune time. A court report says he violated bond term back in 2004 with a DUI, reckless driving, and two counts of forging public documents.
Nonetheless, Knighton appeared to be a talented artist at the time of his death– after a fellow prisoner pointed him to a drawing book in the prison library.
"So I went to the library and found the book and checked it out," Knighton later wrote. "I read the book, did the exercises in the book, then took flight."
His artistry includes a reflection-laden tiger drawing made with a $2 box of colored pencils and a sheet of computer paper, while a drawing featuring hip-hop artists Russell Simmions, Ghost Face, and Nas reportedly won a McGuffey Art Center contest while Knighton was jailed.
"Now, I'm living a better life and I am just drawing because I love to draw," wrote Knighton, who also sketched his two youthful step-daughters. "I want to see how far I can go or what I can do with my talent."
–this story is a print rewrite of various breaking news posts uploaded at various times beginning at 8:40am on May 4