DJ Twist: Jefferson Ward's days in court
Local scamster Jefferson Ward was born April 19, 1958, according to his mother. Ask Ward, and he'll say his birth date is 10 years later, in 1968.
Not in dispute is April 19, 2004: That's the day Ward faces a grand jury on rape charges.
Ward was busy with court appearances last week. He was convicted of felonious assault February 25 in Charlottesville Circuit Court– not for biting the tip off a man's finger, as was alleged in court testimony– but for bashing a beer bottle over the man's head.
And at a preliminary hearing on February 26 at the Charlottesville General District Court on the rape charges, the victim testified that after Ward gave her a substance she thought was the drug Ecstasy, she woke up to find him having sex with her.
In jail since December 27, Ward wore prison stripes to both court appearances with "TWIST" written in faded ink on the back, perhaps a reference to his short career as DJ Twist at radio station WNRN.
On the night of the alleged rape, the victim, who was acquainted with Ward, met up with him at Club 216. "The first time I saw Jefferson, " she testified, "I tried to avoid him."
When Ward told her he had Ecstasy, she planned an after-party party at her house, a detail public defender Vanessa Hicks questioned several times. "Why were you moving the party? Why are you leaving people at Club 216 and having them over to your house?" she asked, until finally, Judge Robert Downer interrupted Hicks and pointed out that people don't need a good reason to have an after-hours party.
According to her testimony, the victim followed Ward to the Pantops area before he pulled over to tell her the Ecstasy was at his Wertland Street apartment. Arriving there around 4am, she used Ward's cell phone to call a friend to inform him about the change of venue. Her friend later told her that when he tried to call back, the cell phone was off, she testified.
After taking the faux Ecstasy, the woman consented to a foot massage from Ward while sitting on the sofa with her feet in his lap. The next thing she remembered, she told the court, "I woke up and he was having sex with me. I said 'stop,' and I passed out again."
She woke up around 10 the next morning with her shirt and red underwear on, she testified but her jeans were off. "I was in shock," she said.
"Do you remember asking Mr. Ward to borrow money?" Hicks questioned.
"No," replied the woman.
"Did a conversation about sex ever come up?" asked Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Ron Huber. "No," said the woman again.
Downer certified the case to the grand jury, amending the charge from rape by force to rape by mental incapacity or physical helplessness.
In Circuit Court the day before, Ward told Judge Edward Hogshire his date of birth was April 19, 1968, and that he had a college degree another claim disputed by family members. At least Ward didn't tell the judge he played football for UVA, another story he used to spin– although UVA has no record of his enrollment.
The felonious assault charge came from a dispute over a woman who apparently dated Ward whenever she broke up with her boyfriend.
The boyfriend, who's also in jail, testified about an evening of "bickering" and "talking trash" on the cell phone with Ward on July 9. The sparring finally got physical when the boyfriend, having just finished urinating behind Baja Bean, encountered Ward.
"It's on now," were the fighting words both the boyfriend and Ward accused each other of saying.
"It was mutual combat until he bit the tip of my finger off," testified the boyfriend, who had Ward in a headlock when the biting occurred. The victim lost 3/8 inch of bone off the fourth finger of his left hand.
When asked if he released Ward then, the boyfriend answered, "Oh, no. He had my finger in his mouth. He ain't releasing. I ain't releasing."
The appearance of a university police officer was the incentive for the boyfriend to let go of Ward and take off over to the U-4 parking lot. "I didn't want to be sprayed," he explained.
Ward followed him over to the parking lot. The boyfriend stopped five feet away from Officer Dwayne Jones of the Charlottesville force, who knew Ward and testified he called Ward's name six or seven times. Ignoring the officer, Ward picked up a Miller Lite bottle and whacked the boyfriend on the head.
Ward testified that he heard the boyfriend tell his girlfriend to "get my piece," and that he followed the boyfriend in self-defense.
When asked by Huber why he picked up the bottle, Ward replied indignantly, "Sir, I don't know if you know what it's like to get shot. I've been shot twice. I'm from the streets of DC. My first reaction was to defend myself."
The shackled and cuffed defendant attempted to reenact events from that evening, such as how he tried to walk away from the fight. He insisted he told police about the alleged piece.
"Have you ever been convicted of lying, cheating or stealing, of moral turpitude?" asked Huber.
"Define moral turpitude," said Ward.
"Lying, cheating, or stealing," said Huber.
"Yes," Ward acknowledged.
Despite Ward's dramatization and self-defense claim, Judge Hogshire said the case wasn't even close, and called it "one of the most brutal assaults I've seen."
Ward will continue his court appearances throughout the spring. Sentencing for the felonious assault charge, which could be punished by five years in jail, is May 24. And then there's that rape charge.
After the conviction, the blonde girlfriend confided that she dated the age-secretive Ward when she was mad at her boyfriend. "He would never let me get near his ID," she said.
Jefferson Ward in 2002.
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO
Jefferson Ward after his arrest for rape on December 27, 2003.
COURTESY CHARLOTTESVILLE POLICE