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Gavel (Flickr photo by Joe Gratz)

The Arlington Circuit Court will soon send out its annual juror questionnaires, which determine who will get jury duty next year.

In early August, the court will be sending postcards to a random group of residents of Arlington County and Falls Church. These postcards instruct residents how to fill out their juror questionnaires online.

Recipients will be chosen from voter rolls provided by the State Board of Elections, according to a county press release. Court-appointed jury commissioners will review the completed questionnaires to decide who is eligible for service, using standards set by the Virginia General Assembly.

“The questionnaire is not a summons to appear so please do not call the Clerk’s Office asking to be excused from jury duty,” the press release said. “Excuses will be considered at the time you are actually summoned to serve as a juror.”

Residents have ten days to complete the questionnaire.

“Failure to respond to the questionnaire or providing incomplete information may result in your being summoned to Court to complete the form in person,” the press release said.

If selected, jurors will typically serve one to two days or one trial for a time period between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Jurors selected may be summoned any time between Jan. 1, 2022 and Dec. 31, 2022. Each juror will receive $30 each day they report for reimbursement of expenses.

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A federal grand jury has indicted an Arlington lawyer on charges related to paying underage girls for sex.

Matthew Erausquin, 46, was arrested in November after a 1.5-year-long investigation. He was charged in Alexandria federal court with sex trafficking minors, producing child pornography, and charges related to transporting or forcing victims to cross state lines for sex.

If convicted, he faces between 15 years to a lifetime in prison, although sentences for federal crimes are typically shorter than the maximum penalties, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said in a press release.

“The defendant allegedly used his money and power to sexually exploit minors,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to holding accountable those who prey on and victimize children, and to seeking justice for society’s most vulnerable members.”

Court documents allege that Erausquin paid for sex with six underage girls and three young adults over three years. During that time, the documents say he secretly recorded some of his encounters.

He allegedly met some of the girls on Seeking Arrangement, a website where men seek younger partners looking for financial help. In other instances, prosecutors say he posed as an 18 or 19-year-old on the dating app Tinder.

“Erausquin lured the girls into commercial sex arrangements, paying the girls between $500 to $800 each per sexual encounter and offering to pay at least $1,000 for threesome sexual activity,” said the Eastern District of Virginia U.S. Attorney’s Office. “In addition to these payments, Erausquin gave the girls marijuana and expensive gifts, such as [Tiffany & Co.] purses.”

According to a Fairfax County police affidavit, the investigation began in 2019, after a high school student reported to police that a man in his 40s had paid two victims $1,000 for a threesome, Virginia Lawyers Weekly previously reported.

One girl alleges that she “passed out after taking a hit of marijuana at Erausquin’s Arlington apartment, then woke up with no clothes on,” according to the Washington Post. Some were lured to the area from out of town with first-class plane tickets purchased by Erausquin, the Post also reported.

According to an affidavit, some underage victims told police that he likely knew they not yet 18.

Erausquin was a founding partner of the Alexandria office of the firm Consumer Litigation Associates. CLA has since removed his office from its list of locations.

Flickr photo by Joe Gratz

After a months-long hiatus due to the pandemic, Arlington County is preparing to resume jury trials.

“The Arlington Circuit Court is planning to resume jury trials in September 2020,” the court says on its website. “If you received a juror summons for a reporting date after September 1, 2020, please carefully read the front and back of the summons and follow all instructions. Visit the Juror Website or call the Juror Hotline 703-228-0533 to confirm receipt of the summons and to make requests to be deferred or excused.”

The court website says a number of safety measures will be in place, including mandatory mask-wearing for everyone in the courthouse, temperature checks, staggered juror arrival times, social distancing, and readily-available hand sanitizer and wipes.

“Every person who has a case in the Circuit Court is afforded the opportunity of a jury trial pursuant to our Constitution,” the court in a FAQ document. “In resuming jury trials which were delayed due to COVID-19, the Arlington Circuit Court fully understands the need to protect the health and safety of jurors, trial participants, county employees, and the public.”

Those with valid health concerns, COVID-19 risk factors, and known exposures to the virus can request to be excused from jury duty.

Flickr photo by Joe Gratz

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Marc C. Hicks (photo courtesy ACPD)A Maryland man has been found guilty of a fatal hit and run accident that occurred on Route 50 in 2011.

Yorktown High School grad Zorigoo Munkhbayar, 23, was walking along eastbound Route 50 near Courthouse early on the morning of Sept. 16, 2011, when he was struck by a box truck. The truck and its driver did not remain at the scene. Police later found Munkhbayar dead, lying in the roadway on the Route 50 exit to N. Rhodes Street.

A month later, after analyzing parts of the truck that were left at the scene, police arrested Marc D. Hicks of Oxon Hill, Md., and charged him with hit and run.

The case went to trial on Monday, with Hicks maintaining that he did not know he struck Munkhbayar. Hicks, 43, claimed that he thought damage to his truck was caused by a deer he struck in Maryland later that morning. (The truck belongs to a commercial snack delivery business.)

On Thursday, however, an Arlington County jury found Hicks guilty of felony hit and run, recommending a sentence of 15 months in prison, according to prosecutors. Hicks will remain in the Arlington County jail pending a final sentencing hearing that’s scheduled for Friday, May 17. At that hearing, a judge will have the option of either imposing the recommended sentence or a reduced sentence.

Jennifer Clarke, the Arlington Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney who prosecuted the case, told ARLnow.com that Hicks was only charged with hit and run, and not any other crimes, because the facts of the case did not suggest that he was negligent in the accident.

“There was no evidence of reckless driving, there was no evidence of intoxication or any impairment, it was just an accident that happened… and he just didn’t stay on scene,” she said.

Clarke said that there were no witnesses to the accident.

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Javon Martin (Arlington Police photo)(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) The jury that convicted 25-year-old Javon Martin of robbery and first degree felony murder yesterday for the stabbing of Arlington resident Carl Diener recommends that Martin receive a 27 year sentence.

The jury had the option of recommending sentences up to life in prison for Martin. He is expected to be formally sentenced before Judge Louise DiMatteo in May.

Martin’s cousin and co-defendant, Roger Clark III, pleaded guilty to Diener’s murder last year and will be sentenced at some point in the future. The maximum sentence Clark could receive is 25 years in prison; he was offered a reduced sentence as part of a plea deal for testifying against Martin.

Arlington County sent out the following press release about Martin’s conviction and recommended sentence:

ARLINGTON, Va. – An Arlington County jury yesterday found Javon Martin guilty of murder and robbery for the December 29, 2009 homicide of Carl Diener. Following the guilty finding, the members of the jury recommended a 27 year sentence for Martin, 25, formerly of Washington, D.C. Formal sentencing by Judge Louise DiMatteo is scheduled for a later date.

Theophani K. Stamos, Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney and M. Douglas Scott, Arlington County’s Chief of Police made the announcement after the conclusion of the trial.

Diener, 57, a retired federal government employee and a well known and loved member of the Lyon Park community, was found by a passerby stabbed to death lying on the street in the 3200 block of N. 13th Street. As was his practice, he awoke early in the morning to open a local health and fitness club for members. As Mr. Diener was walking from his longtime home to the health and fitness club, he was brutally attacked and left to die.

“From that cold December morning when Mr. Diener’s body was found, the Arlington County Police Department never wavered in their determination to solve this murder, investing hundreds of hours in this investigation,” commented Chief Scott. As a result, murder charges were brought against Roger K. Clark III, 22, of Severn, Maryland, and Javon Martin in June of 2011. Clark pleaded guilty and is currently awaiting sentencing.

Following the trial, Commonwealth’s Attorney Stamos said, “We are extremely grateful to the jury — all of whom worked so hard to reach the right conclusion. Our prayers go out to Carl Diener’s family and hope they will find some comfort in knowing those responsible for his death were held accountable by this community.”

Arlington County Deputy Chief Daniel J. Murray, Commander of the Criminal Investigations Division added, “The Homicide Robbery Unit’s efforts and a strong partnership with the Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office have resulted in two dangerous individuals being removed from the streets. Unfortunately none of our efforts could ever bring Mr. Diener back and the Arlington community is much poorer for the loss of this great friend to everyone.”

Master Police Officer Rosa Ortiz was the lead detective and the case was prosecuted by Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Molly Newton and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney John Lynch.

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