Charlottesville Breaking News

Housekeeping: Court readies for Huguely trial

Pretrial publicity remains a concern for the defense in the upcoming murder trial of former UVA lacrosse player George Huguely for the death of his former girlfriend Yeardley Love.

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Prelim waived: Halfaday fraud charges go to grand jury

Making his third appearance to answer election fraud charges Thursday, former City Council candidate James Halfaday waived a preliminary hearing, so the four felony charges will go to the grand jury. The 32-year-old appeared in Charlottesville General District Court January 26 with his attorney, Scott Goodman.

After coming in seventh out of seven candidates in last August's Democratic firehouse primary, odd allegations started popping up about the man who, until that point, had been best known as both the city's first gay and Native American candidate.

A lawyer contacted the Hook to say that Halfaday was not the owner of Snap Fitness gym as he'd claimed during his campaign. And residents at the Sunset Road address Halfaday used when he filed to run for Council had never heard of him. And several people listed as having contributed $499 to his campaign adamantly denied doing so. (There was even an assertion by Halfaday that he'd been injured in the summertime earthquake.)

On October 19, Halfaday was arrested for making false statements on voter registration forms, a Class 5 felony that carries up to 10 years in prison and up to a $2,500 fine. Also appearing in co...

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Quieter side: Montvue ranch sprawls like its land

Address: 2700 Magnolia Drive
Neighborhood: Montvue in Albemarle County
Asking: $559,000
Assessment: $467,200
Year Built: 1960
Size: 4,676 fin. sq. ft.
Land: 4.538 acres
Agent: Tommy Brannock, Better Homes and Garden Real Estate III, 434-977-3033
Curb Appeal: 7 out of 10

The Montvue neighborhood is just under two miles from the Barracks Road Shopping Center as the crow flies, and its Magnolia Drive consists of a small enclave tucked beside a park-like, wooded ravine. While there are power lines along the road, most of the scenery is private and secluded– for now. It should be noted that about a third of a mile away, on the opposite side of this neighborhood, lies the path of the proposed Western Bypass, what appears to be an imminent reality with nine companies vying for the opportunity to construct it.

This single-story-plus-basement ranch was built when brick and solid wood were the materials of choice. Anyone who appreciates homes of this era will find the structure remains unaltered. The addition of a pergola at the entryway adds architectural interest in a traditional Charlottesville style. 

A 15-light glass door creates a sun-filled foyer, roomy enough for a console table. Beyond, the living room stretches along the rear giving tranquil...

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Another death: Albemarle traffic fatalities rise to 21

In November, after five people died in crashes in less than a week and with 19 deaths for the year, Albemarle was looking at its highest number of traffic fatalities since 2003.

Since then, two more people have died.

The most recent death occurred January 6, more than a week after a 6:30am collision near Western Albemarle High School in the 5900 block of Rockfish Gap Turnpike.

According to Sergeant Darrell Byers with Albemarle Police, Kenneth Eugene Hughes, 77, of Roanoke, was heading east on U.S. 250 in his Nissan Rogue on December 28, when Michael Carson Ragland, driving a tractor trailer, was making a U-turn. Ragland has been charged with failure to yield the right of way, and other charges may be pending, adds Byers.

In 2010, Ragland was found guilty of that same charge in Louisa. Records show he was also convicted of making an improper lane change in Albemarle in 2008.

Initially, medical personnel didn't think Hughes' injuries were life-threatening, says Byers. "We didn't learn about [his death] until after the new year. We learned about it from FOIA requests." The Freedom of Information Act requests came from lawyers, says Byers, who adds that a crash reconstruction team is studying the incident.

Gaetan Fraser, 45, a truck driver from Quebec on his way to Florida with relatives, became Albemarle's 20th fatality December 21 when he swer...

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Officer blamed: Police ticket own in pedestrian incident

The last time an Albemarle County Police cruiser and a pedestrian tangled, it was the pedestrian who got the ticket in an incident that gave law enforcement a black eye and a lawsuit. This time, following a January 13 accident, it's the Albemarle County officer who's facing a charge.

On January 24, eleven days after the incident left a jogger with minor injuries, officer Caroline Ann Morris, 35, was cited for failure to yield the right of way for allegedly striking the man at the eastbound off-ramp of Interstate 64 and Fifth Street Extended.

Prior to Morris' citation, which was filed by Albemarle Corporal Jonathan Shenk, the Hook spoke with the victim, 41-year-old Albemarle County teacher Carlos Pezua. While Pezua declined to confirm one of his friend's allegations that he was tossed up on the hood of the cruiser in the approximately 5:30pm incident, he noted that he was satisfied with the post-crash conduct of Morris and the investigating officers, calling them "courteous and professional."

So why did it take nearly two weeks to issue a ticket?

"Sometimes, there is clear evidence that would cause an officer to bring forth charges immediately," says County police spokesperson Darrell Byers. "Other times, we confer with the Commonwealth's Attorney."

While Byers says a police officer wouldn't receive preferential treatment fr...

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