Charlottesville Breaking News

Rape charge: County cop arrested and media blocked

On January 5, Albemarle County Police arrested one of their own, former County police officer Sean M. Horn, 42, who has been charged with an alleged Thanksgiving Day weekend rape in 2011, "accomplished through the use of the victim's mental incapacity or physical helplessness," according to an arrest warrant. Police say the arrest follows a "thorough investigation."
However, without notice on January 6, members of the media were barred from a bond hearing for Horn in Albemarle County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, after Judge Dwight Johnson granted a motion by the defense to bar media from the courtroom due to concerns about pre-trial publicity.

"That is very rarely imposed," says Hook legal expert David Heilberg, "The judge needs to be very careful."

Indeed, as Heilberg explains, while legal for pre-trial hearings, such bans require a judge to balance the rights of the press under the First Amendment with a defendant's right to a fair trial. Naturally, there should be a fair amount of substance in the defense's argument. What's more, these bans are usually reserved for public figures capable of generating a high level of pre-trial publicity in the first place.

Horn's attorney, David Sims, an intern in the Charlottesville Commonwealth Attorney's Office in 2008 while a law student at UVA, did not immediately respond for comment.

"Of course,"as Heilberg points out,"the cas...

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Hall, sold: Richmond magnate buys Keswick resort and club

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Broken beauty: The lofty life and tragic death of Linda Doig

"She had further to fall than I did," says the wiry, bearded man, gesturing to his companion on a beat-up sofa. Next to him sits a tall but weathered blond who nods in agreement and asks the man to retrieve a magazine page from the tent they're sharing downtown during the waning days of the Occupy Charlottesville movement.

The picture– a Miss Clairol ad from the mid-'80s– features an exquisite blond, arm around a young girl with matching flaxen locks, and the slogan that launched a thousand home dye jobs: "Does she or doesn't she?"

"That's me," says the woman as she tearfully begins recounting a devastating arc that followed her jet-set life of modeling in New York, Paris, and Milan to the grim reality of homelessness in Charlottesville.

"I had nowhere else to go," the woman, Linda Doig, says softly of her decision to camp out in Lee Park.

"Someone had to take care of her," says the man.

Friends and family say theirs was a toxic relationship at best.

Two weeks earlier and 3,000 miles away, a salesman in California named Rusty Bracho felt desperately worried. In mid-November, having seen Doig's name in a brief online news item, Bracho phoned the Hook.

"She's going to be dead soon if I can't find her," he told a reporter, pleading for help locating his friend.

Less than a month later, Bracho's grim premonition was realized, as the body of the 51-year-old former international model was removed from a...

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Keeping faith: Big baseball film to shoot here this summer

Spielberg's Lincoln may have headed back to the West Coast, but starting this summer, there'll be another major motion picture on location in Central Virginia. It's The Home Game, which borrows some of the formula that made the recent Courageous, with over $33 million in box office, so successful.

For starters, they've got one of the stars of that faith-based feature on board, Robert Amaya, as the sidekick to a yet-unannounced star in this hopefully heart-warming picture about a bunch of foster kids and the baseball team that looks after them.

"I'm calling up my Cuban roots," laughs Amaya, visiting a newspaper office in an early-January publicity tour.

The producers, who include husband-and-wife Durrell and Rebecca Rogers Nelson, who recently relocated to Albemarle from L.A.. For her, it's a return to her old stomping grounds because she went to Western Albemarle High School "100,000 years ago."

Beautiful Feet Productions plans to use some consulting skills of retired big-leaguer Billy Wagner and hopes to make an announcement about the young local baseball players they'll cast as extras in April, with an eye toward releasing the picture in early 2013.

Meanwhile, Charlottesville-based casting director Erica Arvold is also helping put together the pilot for a proposed kids' t...

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Shoppers exodus: China King moves to Hibachi Grill

The gigantic China King Buffet is the latest tenant to vacate the increasingly empty store-fronted Shoppers World, moving down the road to the Hibachi Grill on Seminole Trail.

China King owner Gui Chen says Shoppers World wouldn't renew the Buffet's lease.

"They tried to get everyone out," says Chen, whose large eatery of sushi, grilled meats, and vegetable dishes occupied the site of the once-popular Katie's Country Club nightspot until the last days of December.

In 2011, the 169,000-square-foot shopping center also lost such tenants Whole Foods, Super Shoes and Ragazzi's. And with the upcoming opening of Stonefield, and the apparent glut of commercial real estate in nearby U.S. 29 shopping centers, such as Albemarle Square and Seminole Square, the big question is what owner Federal Realty Investment Trust, which also owns Barracks Road Shopping Center, has planned.

The Rockville, Maryland-based real estate investment company bought the aging...

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