Charlottesville Breaking News

Alleged killer Tinsley finally moving toward trial

The Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg is revealing details of the ongoing case against Kenneth Maurice Tinsley, the 61-year-old man accused of raping and murdering Culpeper County resident Rebecca Lynn Williams in 1982, the crime that almost resulted in the execution of an innocent man. Tinsley, who allegedly stabbed the 19-year-old Williams to death in front of her two young children, is already serving two life terms in state prison for a 1984 rape here in Albemarle, but he wasn't connected to the Williams case until 2006. The original suspect, Earl Washington Jr., confessed and spent time on death row until he was exonerated by DNA evidence in 2000 and later pardoned. Last May, a Charlottesville-area jury awarded Washington $2.25 million in a civil judgment against the estate of the State Police investigator most closely associated with Washington's false confession. A hearing for Tinsley originally scheduled last fall was postponed when he suffered a heart attack. Tinsley still suffers from a heart ailment, but the Fredericksburg newspaper reports that he appeared to be in relatively good condition...

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Truck wedged under Corner bridge

There's a truck squished under the 14th Street bridge in the UVA Corner area, as seen in these photos shot at 8:10am. The vehicle was traveling west on University Avenue when the driver, perhaps unaware of the 10-foot height limit under the railroad bridge, crashed. According to historian Coy Barefoot's book The Corner, the bridge, built in 1901, has experienced many such accidents (including one that released live chickens onto the streets). In the early 1990s, the City– hoping to avoid accidents– installed a warning light and siren system. Whether the system was operating properly could not be immediately determined. Although a very light snow began falling around the time of the accident (and continues to fall), visibility has not yet been severely impaired. Pieces of smashed truck are lying on the street, but traffic is...

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'Gail for Rail' throws support to Webb

The #3 candidate in Virginia's madcap race for the U.S. Senate, the woman who has focused on light rail, appears to have steered her train into the camp of Democratic challenger James Webb. Appearing today at a Webb rally in Roanoke, Gail Parker said afterwards that while she won't technically endorse, she concedes she's "taking sides now." "If folks can't vote for us because we're too conservative, then for goodness sakes, please vote for postive change," says Parker following the Webb rally at Fire Station #1 in Roanoke. "By being there, I believe I lent my moral support," Parker tells the Hook. "We have chosen sides. Certainly, the incumbent is not change." Shut out of the four debates between Webb and incumbent Senator George Allen, Parker has

barely registered on the pollsters' charts, earning just two percent of the probable vote, according to several polls. About a week ago, the retired Air Force officer and civilian executive budget analyst announced that she'd throw her support to the candidate who supports her vision of a state-spanning high-speed, light-rail network that she sees as key to cutting traffic fatalities and helping eliminate the need for foreign oil, which she blames for the war in Iraq...

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Bomb trial: Teen's appeal lifts secrecy veil

Evidence in a highly publicized alleged plot to blow up two high schools was heard for the first time in a courtroom open to the public. A former Jack Jouett middle schooler appealed his conviction in Albemarle Circuit Court August 15 with the defense contending the boy didn't even know two of the three other teens arrested for allegedly plotting to blow up Albemarle and Western Albemarle high schools and that he thought the plan was a joke.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Darby Lowe produced an array of ponytailed rising ninth graders to testify they'd heard the 13-year-old talk about the alleged plot before the police's February 3 announcement that three teens had been arrested. 

Publicity was clearly on Lowe's mind, and when she asked the jury pool if they'd read about the case, 10 of 36 potential jurors raised their hands. In particular, Lowe asked if they'd listened to Coy Barefoot's "Charlottesville... Right Now" radio show on WINA, or had read the Hook's July 20 article about the case. Lowe also subpoenaed most media organizations in town, including the Hook, the Daily Progress, WINA, NBC29 and the Newsplex.

Lowe's first witness was Albemarle police Sergeant Linda Jenkins who interviewed the 13-year-old boy on Febru...

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Lawyer: Lethal near bankruptcy

Lethal Wrecker is back in the news again, and this time it's pleading bankruptcy– well, almost. Readers may remember that 2003-2005 were banner years for dust-ups involving Lethal Wrecker and the company's predatory pricing practices– specifically, consistently overcharging parkers trying to pry their impounded cars from Lethal's grasp. In October 2005, the City successfully sued Lethal's owner, George Morris, and extracted a settlement that required that he stop overcharging, issue written receipts, and reimburse towees for the illegal charges. On Tuesday, August 1, however, a letter from Deputy City Attorney Lisa Kelley informed the 21 aggrieved citizens who've been anxiously awaiting refunds ranging from $5 to $170 (for a total payout by Lethal of $1,105) that collection day may be a long time coming. "In court on July 21," Kelly writes, "Lethal's attorney represented to the Court that Lethal does not have the money to pay the claims, and that Lethal is on the verge of bankruptcy." How could a company that once charged over $16,000 for a single tow (for a stuck beer truck wedged between...

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