Charlottesville Breaking News

'Stink-bomb': Explosive allegations threaten $10-million award, career

The jury was so moved by 25-year-old Jessica Lester's 2007 death under the weight of an out-of-control Allied Concrete mixer that it awarded a record $10.6 million, the bulk of which to go to her grieving husband.

Now, seven months after the December trial, allegations that a respected personal injury lawyer lied, withheld evidence, and failed to disclose a family connection to the jury foreperson threaten to overturn the award– and a career.

Lawyers for Allied Concrete and its driver, William Sprouse, detail in a court filing how plaintiff's attorney Matt Murray allegedly instructed Jessica's husband, Isaiah Lester, to remove photos of himself partying, à la Casey Anthony, from Facebook and withhold them from a defense discovery request.

The defense also asserts that Murray ordered a paralegal to withhold the "stink-bomb" email that instructed Lester to get rid of the pictures, and when she refused to do so, Murray withheld it himself, then later called the omission an oversight by another paralegal.

One day after the July 5 defense arguments were filed, Murray resigned as managing partner for Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen, the largest personal injury firm in Virginia, which had recruited hi...

36 comments | read more

Correction: Wrong crossword clues

As many have noticed, we ran the across clues twice in the July 21 crossword. Here are the correct down clues:

Down
1 Agree
2 First name in mystery authors
3 "Love Is a Wonderful Thing" singer Michael
4 Mimic
5 Auction section
6 "Hey, over here!"
7 Take ___ in the dark
8 Actress Kaley ___ of "The Big Bang Theory"
9 "...sure plays ___ pinball"
10 Sports announcer Scully
11 Question asked many times in "Marathon Man"
12 "Reversal of Fortune" family name
13 Wreath-like garlands
18 Back muscles
22 Non-solid state: abbr.
25 Taco ___
26 Stomach trouble
27 Quite
31 Possess, to a Scotsman
32 ___ Khan
33 Birth control option
34 ___ World Peace (Ron Artest's newly-proposed name)
36 Talk smack about
37 Image worship
38 Greek wrap
39 Anorak, e.g.
40 Didn't attract attention
43 Traditional Japanese drama
45 Tall tale
46 They're playing to the camera
47 Lying on one's back
49 Pelvic floor exercise
50 "Fame" actress Cara
51 Egg holders
52 Astronaut's outerwear
56 Lay's competitor to Pringles
58 "___ in 'zebra'"
60 Shooting org.
61 "Hill Street Blues" rank: abbr.
©2011 Jonesin' Crosswords (editor@jonesincrosswords.com)

9 comments | read more

Hot contests: Democrats clash in dog days of summer

Across Virginia, voters go to the polls in November to elect state and local legislators, but in Charlottesville, the election will pretty much be sewn up in August. In this overwhelmingly Democratic burg, perhaps a thousand or two people will vote in the party's primary and decide who will serve on City Council and as the hotly contested clerk of circuit court.

The bleak odds have not deterred four independents from joining the race, raising the number of candidates to 11 seeking the three seats up for grabs on City Council.

When voters go to Burley Middle School on August 20, it will be the second time local Dems have tried a so-called firehouse primary. In 2009, the party abandoned the mass meetings of the past that often took all day to choose candidates.

"The reason we went to the firehouse primary is to make it as easy for people to participate as possible," says local Democratic party co-chair Tom Vandever.

You don't even have to be a Democrat to vote in the day-long event, but registered voters must sign a loyalty pledge to support the Democratic party and its candidates. "There's no legal recourse," says Vandever, but he notes a bit of controversy two years ago when Dede Smith, now a candidate for for City Council, supported independent Bob Fenwick for Council in the 2009 race.

Another feature in the firehouse primary...

63 comments | read more

Fitting end: Final 'Potter' lives up to hype

After seven earlier films reaching back a decade, the Harry Potter saga comes to a solid and satisfying conclusion in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. The finale conjures up enough awe and solemnity to serve as an appropriate finale and a dramatic contrast to the light-hearted (relative) innocence of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone all those magical years ago.

Harry, Hermione and Ron are grown up now, and Harry has even grown the facial stubble required of all epic heroes. The time has come for him to face Lord Voldemort in their final showdown, and their conflict is staged in a series of special effects sequences containing power and conviction. I am still not sure what the bolts discharged by magic wands actually consist of, but never mind: They look wicked and lethal.

I dare not reveal a single crucial detail about the story itself, lest I offend the Spoiler Police, who have been on my case lately. Besides, you never know: Maybe they've completely rewritten J.K. Rowling's final book in the series. Maybe Harry dies, Voldemort is triumphant, and evil reigns. Full review.

0 comments | read more

The Lodge: Old Trail for older folks

Back in 2008, developer David Hilliard began his "Lodge at Old Trail" project, a senior living community in the heart of Old Trail Village in Crozet. He was hoping to create what he calls a multi-generational community, where seniors who wish to live independently or need assisted living or special medical services can live among their children and grandchildren. Now dirt has been moved, foundations poured, and steel framing has been going up fast, bringing the project closer to reality. 

No thanks to the Albemarle County Service Authority, however, which refused to budge on a policy under which water and sewer connection fees can be paid only once a building permit is issued.

Hilliard and other developers had tried to persuade the Authority to allow them to pre-pay for service connections, but the board said no, a decision that has ended up costing Hilliard over $500,000. That's because back in 2008, the connection fee for the 126 units was around $200,000. When the development ran into delays, no permit was issued, and today, the connection cost is around $700,000.

Still, Hilliard appears to be trying to use the situation to his advantage, emphasizing in a recent release that the development will not only bring jobs to the area (100 by the time the place is finished), but the recent payment of the connection fee has added nearly three quarters of a million bucks to the Authority. So this...

17 comments | read more
EDITOR'S NOTE
12 comments
Editor's Note
4BETTER OR WORSE
4Better Or Worse
CORRECTIONS
Corrections
CULTUREVULTURE
2 comments
CultureVulture
EDITOR'S NOTE
42 comments
Editor's Note