(Updated at 12:30 p.m.) Arlington Circuit Court Judge Daniel S. Fiore II sentenced Mack Wood, Jr. on Tuesday to life in prison. The 49-year-old Wood, Jr. pled guilty for the murder of his 87-year-old father.
Wood, Jr. was one of three people arrested last year in the murder-for-hire case. Mack L. Wood was found dead in his Arlington home in October 2012 from what first appeared to be an accident. However, an investigation by the Arlington County Police Department and the Henrico County Police Department uncovered evidence leading to the arrests of Wood, Jr., as well as Jean Caleb Pierre and Sapien Edmonds. All three men lived in Henrico, VA.
Prosecution documents state Wood, Jr. agreed to pay Pierre and Edmonds $25,000 each to kill his terminally ill father. The three began conspiring in April 2012, according to prosecutors, and made a failed attempt to kill Wood in July 2012. They kept in contact and came up with a new plan, which they successfully carried out in October 2012 when prosecutors say Edmonds beat and strangled Wood. Edmonds reportedly then positioned the body to appear as if the victim died from a fall down the stairs.
“It was horribly tragic for the Wood family. Mr. Wood was 87 years old and his wife had died a number of years earlier. They had adopted both of their children. He gave Mack Wood, Jr. his name, and they raised and provided a very good home for them,” assistant commonwealth’s attorney Andrew Parker told ARLnow.com. “Mr. Wood lived by himself and had been diagnosed months earlier with terminal cancer and was very ill. But because of these three men, he died at the hands of a stranger in his own home, by himself.”
Judge Fiore sentenced Wood, Jr. to life in prison for capital murder and an extra 20 years for the charge of conspiracy to commit murder. He is not eligible for parole under Virginia law.
Pierre and Edmonds both are waiting for their sentencing. As part of a plea deal, they agreed to provide information to authorities and therefore will be sentenced for first degree murder instead of capital murder. That means they will receive prison time, but not a death sentence.
Wood, Jr. has claimed his father abused him, but prosecutors have not been able to find any evidence to corroborate the claims. Evidence indicates Wood, Jr.’s motive was to inherit his father’s money. Wood, Jr. told Pierre he forged his father’s name on a contract to sell timber on land his father owned, and that he had received money from the sale. Wood, Jr. said he was afraid his father would reduce or eliminate his inheritance when he found out about the forged contract.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Wood, Jr. gave a lengthy statement. Part of his statement involved apologizing to his sister, Laura Kopack. She read her own statement, in which she explained what a blow this was to her and the family.
A 22-year-old Alexandria man received a net seven year prison sentence today after being found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the Christmas Eve 2012 death of a pedestrian in Ballston.
Farhan Khan was sentenced today in Arlington Circuit Court for the death of Shabnam Motahhar-Tehrani, 32, who was killed in the accident at the corner of N. Glebe Road and Randolph Street. Khan was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with three years suspended. Additionally, his driver’s license will be revoked and he will be on probation for 10 years after his release, according to Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jay Burkholder.
Witnesses said Khan was driving between 50-60 mph when he ran a red light and struck another vehicle. The collision caused his vehicle to spin out and hit Tehrani, who was standing on the sidewalk of Glebe Road. Khan had been cited eight times for previous moving violations, including for speeding the day before the fatal accident, Burkholder said.
“The defendant’s driving behavior was extraordinarily dangerous, particularly because of his excessive speed, the rainy road conditions, and the flagrant manner in which he ran the red light,” Burkholder told ARLnow.com. “Considering his extensive history of speeding, including an offense the day before this accident, and the fact that his gross negligence directly caused the death of Ms. Motahhar-Tehrani, we believed that a significant sentence was appropriate. We are grateful to the Court for its consideration of the evidence.”
The maximum sentence for involuntary manslaughter is 10 years in prison. Video of the accident was captured by a camera on a Metrobus that was stopped at the intersection, and it was introduced as evidence against Khan, Burkholder said.
Photo courtesy Arlington County Police Department
Arlington County Police Department Chief Doug Scott and Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos agreed earlier this year that parking tickets that were issued correctly could no longer be reviewed by the police department, and all appeals would have to be taken to court. The policy took effect Oct. 1.
Tickets issued erroneously — for example, a ticket written at 6:05 p.m. for a meter that expired at 6:00 p.m. — can still be resolved administratively, according to Stamos.
When the ticket “was erroneously issued, in that case… the motorist will come to the police department and they’ll take care of that,” Stamos told ARLnow.com. “They’re going to continue to get rid of tickets that were erroneously issued.”
Before Oct. 1, a driver who was issued a ticket could walk into the police station and request a dismissal, and it would be up to the attending officer whether to enforce or dismiss the ticket. For instance, sometimes tickets for compliance violations like an expired state inspection sticker would be dismissed if the recipient could prove they worked quickly to get their vehicle inspected.
“[Chief Scott] didn’t like the idea of officers saying ‘you know what, we issued it, but we’re going to recall it, even though it was legitimately issued for a violation of some kind,’” Stamos said, noting the previously policy was also a drain on police resources. “If the recipient feels that it’s an injustice, they can go to court and deal with it in court.”
If a ticket recipient wishes to meet with a prosecutor to discuss a ticket, they will need to fill out the form on the back of the ticket and receive a court summons first. Then, Stamos said, they can bring the summons to meet with a prosecutor and try to get the ticket dismissed.
The process still involves showing up in person on a work day, something many ticket recipients decide is not worth the time and aggravation. Occasionally, for out-of-state visitors, prosecutors will conduct a dismissal discussion via phone or letter. Stamos estimated that 90 percent of ticket recipients are local.
Currently, under Arlington County Code 30-9, food trucks are prohibited from vending on a public street for more than an hour in one spot. The enforcement of that portion of the Arlington County Code led to an outcry among food truck owners, who say it unfairly targets their business in order to protect brick-and-mortar restaurants.
Late last year, the Institute for Justice, an Arlington-based libertarian law firm, announced that it was taking up the case of Arlington food trucks as part of its National Street Vending Initiative, which seeks to break down legal barriers for street vendors. Today, that effort bore fruit.
An Arlington County judge, at the request of prosecutors from the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office, dismissed a loitering charge against Hyun “Anna” Shil Goree, co-owner of the Seoul Food truck. Goree was charged with the crime — a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500 — after a police officer determined that she had not moved her truck “far enough” to comply with the law.
Last year Goree was fined $25 and $200 after pleading no contest to street vendor loitering charges in August and October. After being charged again in December, she decided to fight back, enlisting the help of the the Institute for Justice and the law firm of Gibson, Dunn, & Crutcher LLP. The charged was dismissed today via a nolle prosequi motion.
The Food Truck Association of Metropolitan Washington, which has spoken out against the Arlington ordinance, says the dismissal is a victory against an arbitrary law that’s “vague and open to different interpretations.”
“This case highlights the absurdity of treating what amounts to a parking violation as a crime on par with assault,” said Doug Povich, co-owner of Red Hook Lobster Pound truck and Chairman of the Food Truck Association. “The Food Truck Association hopes to work with the County in the months ahead to craft a food-truck law that serves the County’s residents and workers and keeps food trucks as a vibrant part of Arlington’s business community and streetscape.”
Arlington County spokeswoman Mary Curtius said the county is indeed working to change the ordinance.
“We realize that the 60-minute time limit is challenging for vendors and for customers, and we are working to change it,” Curtius said. “We hope to be bringing something forward in the Spring.”
Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos said she asked for the charges to be dismissed after consulting with the police department.
“I made the decision… in consultation with the police department and with the awareness that the current ordinance is very difficult to enforce,” she told ARLnow.com. “It’s difficult to enforce because it requires a police officer to watch a truck for an hour (or some other witness willing to come to court to testify to the fact that the food truck hasn’t moved in 60 minutes)… then there is the definition of ‘move’ that is also problematic. Does it mean an inch? A parking space? Around the block?”
“The officers were responding to requests from store owners to enforce the ordinance,” Stamos continued. “Unfortunately, the ordinance, as written, is rather unclear and a criminal statute is always construed against the Commonwealth and in favor of the defendant, which is as it should be.”
Stamos said it’s “unlikely” that her office will prosecute additional loitering cases against food trucks until the County Board updates the ordinance.
The full press release from the Food Truck Association, after the jump.
(Updated at 7:25 p.m.) The Arlington County Police Department has opened a criminal investigation into a video of Patrick Moran, son of Rep. Jim Moran (D) and former field director of his reelection campaign.
The video, released yesterday by conservative activist James O’Keefe, allegedly shows Moran offering advice on how to cast fraudulent ballots. The advice was given to an undercover reporter who approached Moran with a scheme to fraudulently vote on behalf of 100 people.
Moran has since resigned from the campaign.
From an ACPD press release:
The Arlington County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and the Arlington County Police Department have been made aware of a video released yesterday allegedly depicting Patrick Moran, former Director of Field Operations for the Jim Moran for Congress campaign organization, assisting another to vote illegally.
The Arlington County Police Department has initiated a criminal investigation of this matter.
Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck promised a “thorough investigation” into the “election offense allegations.”
“All parties will be involved in the investigation,” he said, adding that “it would be irresponsible” to not investigate the video. Police will turn over the results of the investigation to the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, which will then decide whether or not to prosecute.
Patrick Moran, in a statement issued following his resignation from the campaign, denied any wrongdoing.
“At no point have I, or will I ever endorse any sort of illegal or unethical behavior, he said. “At no point did I take this person seriously. He struck me as being unstable and joking, and for only that reason did I humor him. In hindsight, I should have immediately walked away, making it clear that there is no place in the electoral process for even the suggestion of illegal behavior: joking or not.”
Arlington GOP Chairman Charles Hokanson, meanwhile, called for Rep. Moran to resign over the video during an interview that was scheduled to air this afternoon NPR, according to an Arlington County Republican Committee press release.
Update at 10:10 p.m. — Rep. Jim Moran issued the following statement tonight.
I don’t condone the actions of the right wing organization in question, but I recognize that this incident is teaching Patrick a tough lesson early in life. I know that my son’s intention was to deflect the line of questioning by this trained political operative bent on goading him into a specific response.
But the fact remains that the conversation drifted into discussions that reflected a serious error in judgment that Patrick wishes he could take back.
In life, if we learn from our mistakes, we move forward stronger, wiser, and committed to ensuring they are not repeated. I know Patrick will come out of this tough situation a better man for it.
The Moran campaign also issued a statement.
Our campaign welcomes a thorough investigation and we will fully cooperate. The incident involving Patrick was an unfortunate situation. While clearly lacking good judgment, Patrick’s unsolicited interaction with a right wing political operative seeking to trap him in a damaging conversation did not constitute an unlawful action. We are confident this unwelcome chapter in the campaign will be quickly and favorably closed.
Photo via YouTube/Project Veritas
Illegal Gambling Bust — This morning the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force will announce that it has made multiple arrests and taken down a gang-related illegal gambling operation after a months-long investigation. Arlington County was one of the police agencies that aided the task force by assisting with the investigation and executing warrants, according to a spokesperson.
Overview of Arlington Prosecutor’s Race — In race for Commonwealth’s Attorney in Arlington, Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos has far out-raised defense attorney David Deane. But Deane is hoping his stance against the death penalty will give him an edge against Stamos in the upcoming Democratic primary. [Washington Post]
An Outsider’s View of Seven Corners — To anyone who has driven far enough west on Wilson Boulevard, Arlington Boulevard or Route 7, an anecdote in this article, written by a recent Arlington transplant, will ring true. [The New Atlantis]
Monday Hopes to Enliven Rosslyn’s Restaurant Scene — Building owner Monday Properties is hoping to bring in some new restaurants to the Rosslyn area and shake off the “stigma” that there’s no nighttime foot traffic in the office-oriented neighborhood. The company just signed two new restaurants — Roti Mediterranean Grill at 1501 Wilson Blvd and Ahra Cafe & Sandwich Bar at 1100 Wilson Blvd. It’s hoping to find more restaurant tenants for its 1501 Wilson property. Ahra Cafe, meanwhile, is replacing three existing businesses, including a beloved coffee shop. [Washington Business Journal]
Stamos Handily Wins Fundraising Crown in Prosecutor Race — Theo Stamos has a nearly 30-to-1 cash advantage over David Deane in the Democratic primary for Commonwealth’s Attorney in Arlington. [Sun Gazette]
Sauca Now Serves Beer, Liquor — Sauca Restaurant (4707 Columbia Pike) has obtained its liquor license and is now serving a selection of beer and fruity cocktails. [Pike Wire]
Best Cellars in Clarendon Closes — Best Cellars in Clarendon opened its doors to customers for the last time yesterday. The wine store closed after being unable to reach new terms for a long-term lease renewal with its landlord, ARLnow.com is told. However, in the store’s window was a more humorous list of explanations for the closing. [Clarendon Culture]
Moran: Arlington an Example for the Nation — Rep. Jim Moran (D) says that Arlington’s transit-oriented growth sets an example for other communities to follow. For communities currently lacking such infrastructure, Moran says that tax policy can be used to help entice developers to build near transit hubs. [WAMU]
Death Penalty May Be Dividing Line in Race – The death penalty may be a key difference between the two Democrats who are running for Commonwealth’s Attorney in Arlington. “The death penalty doesn’t have a place in a civilized society,” said one candidate, defense attorney David Deane, in a recent appearance. His opponent, Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos, has previously said she supports capital punishment in certain circumstances. [Sun Gazette]
Public Access Idea for Comcast — In response to the news that the county is holding focus groups regarding the upcoming renewal of Comcast’s cable franchise in Arlington, one blogger has floated an idea for a different type of ‘public access’ channel. The idea: allow members of the general public to upload videos to a ‘staging server’ where they would be reviewed, screened for inappropriate content and then broadcast in rotation with other community-generated videos. [Ode Street Tribune]
Arlington Has Biggest Income Jump in U.S. — The 2010 Census data is out, and Arlington had the largest jump in median income among municipalities in the United States. Median household income rose by $12,705 between 2000 and 2009. Two other Northern Virginia localities — Alexandria city and Loudoun County — were also among the biggest income gainers. [Bloomberg]
Hispanic Population Falling in Arlington — While the Hispanic population is on the rise in many parts of Virginia, new census data shows that the Hispanic population in Arlington has actually shrunk. The Hispanic population in Arlington fell 11 percent between 2000 and 2009. Arlington’s Asian population, meanwhile, jumped by 21 percent, while the non-Hispanic white population rose by 16 percent. [Washington Post]
Alexandria Happy With HOT Lanes Decision — Alexandria’s mayor says his city “has always and will always be opposed to” High Occupancy Toll lanes. Thus VDOT’s decision to scrap its plan to build HOT lanes on I-395 came as good news for Alexandria. The project was canceled largely thanks to a $1.5 million lawsuit funded by Arlington taxpayers. [Washington Examiner]
Defense Attorney Enters Race to Become Top Prosecutor — Defense attorney David Deane has officially announced his candidacy for Commonwealth’s Attorney in Arlington. Deane will be challenging Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos for the Democratic nomination. Stamos was recently endorsed by the Arlington Coalition of Police and the Falls Church Police Association. The top prosecutor job is being vacated by the retiring Richard Trodden. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Mattron
Ingrid Morroy may be best known for being Arlington’s chief tax assessor, but on the campaign trail she’s known as the chief singer-songwriter for county Democrats.
Morroy, the county’s Commissioner of Revenue, often performs songs about political causes and candidates at Arlington County Democratic Committee events.
Together with her sister Judith, Morroy unveiled a new tune over the weekend, in support of Commonwealth’s Attorney candidate Theo Stamos. Stamos is expected to face defense attorney David Deane in the Democratic primary later this year.
Video courtesy of James E. Martin
Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Richard E. Trodden announced his retirement today.
The four-term prosecutor said he will not seek re-election next year. In a statement, Trodden endorsed Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos to be his successor.
“Theo has earned, in her nearly 25 years of experience, the respect of the bench, the defense bar, her colleagues and the citizens of Arlington County and the City of Falls Church,” Trodden said. “She is the right person at the right time.”
Stamos, a Democrat, also has the backing of Arlington County Sheriff Beth Arthur and Clerk of the Circuit Court Paul Ferguson.
“Theo is tough but fair,” said Ferguson. “She’s a compassionate and caring person,” as well as “a great prosecutor and a community leader.”
Stamos says she’s ready for the job.
“I’m passionate about the work our office does and I’m grateful for Dick’s endorsement,” she said. “I’m looking forward to campaigning and to winning the support of the voters of Arlington and Falls Church.”
Photo via Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney