Press Club
Efren Cruz (courtesy of ACPD)

A man accused of raping a teenager in Arlington 13 years ago will be going to trial later this month.

The two-year-long process to bring him to trial in what was once considered a cold case may be facing delays, however, after a mistrial was declared last week.

Efren Cruz, 43, is accused of rape and sodomy. He fled Arlington sometime after the rape in 2009, authorities say, and the investigation went cold until the U.S. Marshals Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers found and arrested him in 2016.

Cruz is a Honduran citizen who came to the U.S. in 1998, according to ICE. He was extradited back to Virginia and arrested in March 2020. A grand jury indicted him on rape and sodomy charges in August of that year.

His initial trial, which began last Monday (Feb. 28), ended a day later when the presiding judge declared a mistrial. The Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney and the Arlington Public Defender Office both declined to comment on why this happened, citing professional obligations given that the case is still pending

We are told, however, that the court proceedings somehow lacked transparency and the judge declared the case a mistrial in an abundance of caution, allowing a new trial to be scheduled.

Defense attorneys and prosecutors met today (Wednesday) with Arlington Circuit Court Judge Louise M. DiMatteo and rescheduled the trial for Monday, March 21. An attorney speaking on behalf of Senior Assistant Public Defender Lauren Brice, who is representing Cruz, told the judge this would be enough time for Brice to file new motions in the case based on forthcoming transcripts documenting “whatever happened” in the courtroom last week.

Addressing the prosecution, DiMatteo said she imagines “the remedies that need to take place” after last week are “happening right now.”

The Cruz case dates back to Aug. 28, 2009, when a teen girl told the Arlington County Police Department that a man had sexually assaulted her in her in the 3500 block of S. Ball Street, near Crystal City. Different documents say the alleged victim, named K.C. in court documents, was 13 or 14 years old at the time.

Court records indicate the teenager underwent a physical exam so DNA could be collected. Eventually, a forensic analysis from 2017 determined Cruz “cannot be eliminated as a contributor” of the DNA evidence that was found on her.

The day after K.C. went to ACPD, a felony warrant was issued for Cruz, a then-30-year-old Woodbridge resident and construction worker. Cruz fled to the Houston area sometime between the rape and December 2010, when he was convicted in Texas on charges of criminal mischief and evading arrest and detention charges under a different name, according to court records. At the time, local law enforcement apparently did not know he was a wanted man in Virginia.

Struggling to find Cruz in the months after the rape, detectives in Arlington requested the public’s assistance in a press release dated Nov. 6, 2009.

Without any leads as to his whereabouts, the case in Arlington eventually went cold. It was reassigned in late 2015 to the U.S. Marshals Service, which worked with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers to locate him, according to a press release from ICE.

The two law enforcement agencies found Cruz — who was on Virginia’s Most Wanted List, according to the article — living in Houston under the alias of Anthony Sanchez. He was arrested without incident in March 2016.

Court records note that Cruz was a serial offender, with a 2009 larceny conviction and an arrest for soliciting a prostitute. ICE officers also connected him to a sex offense against a minor in 2012 in Houston, under his alias of Anthony Sanchez. He was convicted of indecent sexual contact with a child in Texas in 2017, according to court records.

After an Arlington grand jury indicted Cruz in 2020, multiple trial dates were set and then withdrawn, including one instance said to be due to staffing changes within the defender’s office that his attorneys argued would hurt his case.

Advanced Towing’s legal troubles are not over yet, but owner John O’Neill is feeling good.

Even with the Virginia Attorney General’s office now seeking attorney fees from Advanced, in addition to the mere $750 fine imposed by an Arlington judge, O’Neill feels “vindicated” and calls the AG’s case against him “blackmail.”

On Friday morning, both sides appeared at Arlington Circuit Court in front of Judge William Newman to enter a final order in the AG’s suit. However, since the court didn’t initially rule on the payment of attorney’s fees, a final order couldn’t be agreed on due to the AG’s office insistence that it’s still owed additional money.

As expected, the defense didn’t agree, so the case will continue with another hearing. That’s likely to come in April, when Republican Jason Miyares succeeds Democrat Mark Herring as the state attorney general.

While it’s unclear at this time how much those attorney’s fees may be, O’Neill tells ARLnow he isn’t worried about it.

“Come January, there’ll be a new AG in charge who believes this case is overbearing. I’ve talked to him,” O’Neill says. “I’m very comfortable that this will not be [sought].”

It was a month ago that the court ruled for the towing company to pay a civil fine of $750 for five separate violations of trespass towing rules. Herring’s office brought the case alleging the Advanced often improperly and unsafely tows vehicles, calling the company’s practices “frequently predatory, aggressive, overreaching and illegal.”

The three-digit fine is not the outcome the now-outgoing Attorney General was seeking.

“I am disappointed that the Court only awarded $750 in civil penalties and did not award restitution to consumers, especially the victims of Advanced’s dangerous towing practices who voluntarily testified in court to tell their story,” the outgoing Herring wrote in a statement to ARLnow last month. “Advanced Towing has employed predatory and illegal towing practices for years, costing Virginia consumers hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, and it deserves to be held accountable for its actions.”

But to O’Neill, the court’s decision was proof that his company operates legally, despite public perception to the contrary.

“I was right along. I was vindicated,” he says. “I always had authority to tow and we never made a mistake. People who got their tow parked illegally and we worked in accordance with the law.”

He calls the $650,000 sought by the AG’s Office “blackmail money” and says the whole case was a “witch hunt.”

In a conversation with ARLnow, O’Neill also took shots at the Assistant Attorney General who prosecuted the case.

“She wanted to make my life hell,” he said. “We spent the next year and a half with paperwork up our ass.”

When asked if there were lessons learned from the experience, O’Neill says that just because the government says you are guilty of something, doesn’t mean that you are.

“I didn’t accept the blackmail attempts. This was David vs. Goliath,” said O’Neill, adding that he’s still working to pay the bill for his legal defense, helmed by attorney and sitting state Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax).

“We didn’t have the means to fight this case, but I protected my business and the rights of private property owners across the Commonwealth,” he said.

In terms of the violations for which the court found Advanced Towing liable — including drivers not securing safety straps on vehicles — O’Neill was dismissive and noted that this was primarily the driver’s responsibility.

Saying he “went through hell” with the trial, O’Neill believes Advanced Towing’s victory is a triumph for the entire towing industry.

“Private property owner rights were at stake,” he said. “If [the AG’s office] had won, towing companies would have been hesitant to tow cars… The entire industry is rejoicing. Now, they feel protected.”

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Advanced Towing truck in Clarendon

(Updated, 10:35 p.m.) The Arlington Circuit Court finally came to a decision in Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s lawsuit against Advanced Towing after last month’s multi-day trial.

The court has ordered the towing company, whose tactics have angered many in Arlington, to pay a civil penalty of just $750 for five separate violations. That’s a far cry from the $650,900 that the Attorney General’s office was seeking at trial.

“Although the Defendant’s conduct is sanctionable, the Court is constrained by the remedies available in both the Virginia and Arlington County Code,” wrote Judge William Newman in an opinion letter sent to both sides late Wednesday afternoon.

Additionally, the court did not issue an injunction against the towing company, writing that while there were “deficiencies” in Advanced Towing’s business practices and record keeping, the court “does not find evidence to issue a permanent injunction against Defendant.”

Chap Petersen, Advanced Towing’s attorney — as well as a Virginia state Senator — said at trial that he believed “the office of the Attorney General wants to put my client out of business.” He said the ruling largely vindicates the company and owner John O’Neill.

“While disappointed that the Court made any findings against our client, we feel vindicated in that the Court only assessed a $750 fine for the [five] found violations,” writes Petersen in a statement to ARLnow.

The court assessed one $150 civil penalty for not safely securing consumer vehicles with straps, one $150 civil penalty for not updating contract changes for a commercial parking lot in Ballston, and three $150 civil penalties for employing three drivers that were not registered with the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS).

During the trial, the AG’s office, represented by Assistant Attorney General Erin Witte, called Advanced Towing’s practices “predatory, illegal, and dangerous.” To prove this, they called up a parade of witnesses, including Arlington County police officers and drivers who had their cars towed.

The court found merit in only some of the Attorney General’s claims.

The AG’s office argued that Advanced Towing didn’t clearly mark parking spaces at the Ballston lot, near Gold’s Gym on Wilson Blvd, leaving consumers confused. However, the court ruled the spots were properly labeled and signs properly posted and, therefore, didn’t assess a civil penalty.

Additionally, the AG’s office claimed that Advanced Towing didn’t have copies of towing contracts available for public inspection. But the court ruled that the relevant contracts were available to the public and, also, didn’t assess a civil penalty for that.

“Advanced Towing has been found to have violated the law and it’s time for the company to clean up its act. I am disappointed that the Court only awarded $750 in civil penalties and did not award restitution to consumers, especially the victims of Advanced’s dangerous towing practices who voluntarily testified in court to tell their story,” Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring wrote in a statement to ARLnow. “Advanced Towing has employed predatory and illegal towing practices for years, costing Virginia consumers hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, and it deserves to be held accountable for its actions. I am proud of the hard work my Consumer Protection Section has done on this case, and we will not stop going after bad actors who prey on Virginians just trying to go about their daily lives.”

Petersen noted that, before the trial, the Attorney General’s office offered to settle the case over the summer for $780,000 and an injunction against certain practices by the company.

“I think the difference between the AG’s offer and the Court’s decision speaks for itself,” he said.

While it remains possible that the Attorney General could appeal the ruling, Herring lost his bid for a third term last week, putting further action in the case into question.

A final decree is scheduled to be presented to both sides in court on December 10.

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Gavel (Flickr photo by Joe Gratz)

The Alexandria man whose drugs led to a local woman’s death is expected to spend at least a decade in prison.

Prosecutors announced this morning that 29-year-old Kibruysday Degefa, accused of distributing the fentanyl-laced drugs that caused the overdose death of a 20-year-old woman in Arlington, was convicted on an array of charges by a jury in Alexandria federal court.

Arlington County Police Chief Andy Penn helped to make the announcement. Degefa is set to be sentenced in February and is facing a 10 year mandatory minimum sentence.

A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia is below.

A federal jury convicted an Alexandria man yesterday on charges of conspiracy, possession, and distribution of fentanyl and Eutylone, and being a felon in possession of a firearm during drug trafficking.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, from in or around June 2020, through at least December 2020, Kibruysday Degefa, 29, conspired with others to distribute counterfeit, pressed pills containing fentanyl, as well as Eutylone, which is a designer drug similar in character to MDMA. Pills distributed by the conspiracy twice on December 20, 2020, contributed to the mixed drug overdose death of a 20-year-old female in Arlington, whose blood was later determined to contain fentanyl. A search warrant on the hotel room where Degefa was staying at the time revealed additional narcotics for distribution, including Eutylone, along with multiple firearms concealed in the bathroom ceiling tiles. Degefa was previously convicted of robbery in Alexandria in 2015.

Degefa faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison when sentenced on February 18, 2022. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Andy Penn, Arlington County Chief of Police; Jarod Forget, Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Washington Division; Colonel Gary T. Settle, Superintendent of Virginia State Police; and Charlie J. Patterson, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF’s Washington Field Division, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady accepted the verdict.

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Advanced Towing truck in Clarendon

A decision is expected in Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s lawsuit against Advanced Towing within the next two weeks, a judge said after the trial’s closing arguments Wednesday.

The AG’s office is seeking $650,900 in restitution and civil penalties from Advanced Towing, as well as an injunction. The defense is asking for the case to be dismissed.

Arlington County Circuit Court Chief Judge William T. Newman is presiding over the case, which pits the Commonwealth against a widely-loathed but also widely-used, Ballston-based company that tows vehicles that are considered to be trespassing on private property.

Word of the pending ruling comes after three days of arguments, with the trial starting earlier this month and concluding this week. Wednesday’s closing arguments took just over an hour combined and were intended to crystalize their positions for the judge.

The AG’s office, represented by Assistant Attorney General Erin Witte, reiterated that Advanced Towing practices were “predatory, illegal, and dangerous” while focusing on three main arguments.

First, the employment of unregistered drivers. The AG’s office alleged that more than 10,000 tows, pulled from company records, were made over the last several years by not up-to-date or unregistered tow truck drivers. All drivers are required to be registered with the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS).

While Virginia code puts the onus on individual drivers to be registered, it also states that no tow truck operators should “violate, or assist, induce, or cooperate with others to violate, any provision of law related to the offering or delivery of towing and recovery services.”

Witte argued that Advanced Towing ran afoul of this provision by allowing drivers to tow without registration, no matter their intent. There’s also no company policy to have those registrations on file.

Then, the focus shifted to alleged unsafe towing conduct with the AG’s office citing consumer, resident, and police officer testimony of spotting (and ticketing) drivers not applying safety straps when towing. Witte also noted the “unprofessional” interactions some customers had, including testimony from one man who had his car lifted at the tow yard while he was in it.

Finally, Witte spoke about the legality of the contract and towing being done at a specific shopping center parking lot, along Wilson Blvd near Ballston. The contract wasn’t kept up to date with specifics about when Advanced Towing could tow and when, the assistant AG said. The contract also wasn’t made easily available to the public, as county code stipulates, and a revised contract was once backdated before it was provided to a customer upon their request.

Additionally, the markings on individual parking spaces were unclear, particularly night, leaving customers confused, the Commonwealth argued.

​​In conclusion, Witte said the AG’s office is seeking restitution and civil penalties to “send a message to the defense.”

“[Advanced Towing] tows as many cars as fast as possible,” Witte said. “And acted without regard for the law or safety… we need to hold the defense accountable.”

In his closing arguments, Advanced Towing’s attorney, Chap Petersen — who’s also a state senator — defended his client from these allegations.

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Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s lawsuit against Advance Towing, long accused by many of predatory towing, finally went to trial this week.

During two days of arguments, the AG’s office honed in on the towing company for what they considered to to be unsafe towing practices, overstepping their authority, and allowing unregistered drivers to tow.

Saying that both the county and consumers don’t have much recourse on these matters, Assistant Attorney General Erin Witte made the point that the responsibility was on the Commonwealth to hold Advanced Towing accountable.

“If we don’t do it, it won’t happen,” she said during her opening arguments and speaking to Chief Judge William Newman.

The AG’s office is seeking an injunction to end Advanced Towing’s “illegal practices,” restitution for consumers, plus civil penalties, and attorney’s costs and fees.

While the case was initially supposed to be wrapped up within two days, Judge Newman ruled to allow it to extend to a third day for closing arguments on Oct. 20. A decision by the judge is expected shortly after that.

It was back in June 2020 when the Commonwealth of Virginia filed a lawsuit against Advanced Towing for conduct the state deemed to be “frequently predatory, aggressive, overreaching and illegal.” However, it took 16 months of motions, requests for information, and withdrawn trial dates to get to this point.

It’s undisputed that Advanced Towing’s tactics have angered scores of drivers, unhappy with being towed, including former ESPN reporter Britt McHenry, Amazon delivery drivers, and others. One person has even set up and, for years, maintained a website dedicated to exposing alleged wrongdoing by Advanced, after his Jeep was reportedly damaged while being towed in 2016.

Advanced has argued repeatedly that it is providing a necessary service by towing vehicles that are trespassing on private parking lots. But those being towed nonetheless frequently vent frustration, often prompting calls to police over disputes at the Advanced lot in Ballston.

Sometimes it goes further. In January 2020, an Uber driver trying to drive out of the lot without paying struck owner John O’Neill at the company’s lot. During his testimony during this trial, O’Neill referred to this as his “accident” and said it has caused him severe medical issues.

The company’s attorney Chap Petersen, who is also a Virginia state Senator, acknowledged that there are a lot of people who are pretty upset with his client.

“This lawsuit isn’t about much. There were 40,000 tows in Arlington [since 2017]. That’s a lot of unhappy people, sure.” said Petersen. “But [those tows] weren’t illegal.”

But the question before the court is whether the actions of Advanced Towing are actually illegal despite the company’s assertions to the contrary.

The days-long trial examined a number of alleged bad practices of Advanced Towing, including towing of police vehicles, towing without proper authority, not properly securing vehicles while towing, the safety and professionalism of Advanced Towing employees, if contracts with property owners were properly signed and up to date, the registration status of drivers, and whether towing signage and markings were clear enough for consumers.

To make their case, the AG’s office brought a parade of witnesses to the stand. Among them were several Arlington County police officers, Advanced Towing employees, and people who have had their cars towed.

The police officers testified they had written a number of tickets over the last several years to Advanced Towing, related to improper towing due to safety straps not being applied and not securing the load properly.

Consumers spoke at length about their experiences being towed. One witness recounted having her car towed from her own co-op residence parking lot.

Although she eventually got her car back without paying a fee, she recounted how much time and stress it caused her.

“I was devastated,” she said on the witness stand.

Several witnesses spoke about the “unprofessional” interactions they had with Advanced Towing employees, including one woman who said she was aggressively accosted at the company’s tow yard, which made her feel unsafe.

While the company operates throughout Arlington County as well as in parts of Fairfax County, a lot of time was spent on their towing authority and practices related to a Wilson Blvd parking lot near Ballston that’s used by Gold’s Gym, &Pizza, and bicycle store Spokes Etc.

Local residents on the witness stand (some appearing virtually) recounted their times of running into one of these businesses, only to have their vehicles towed within minutes.

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Morning Notes

List of County Gov’t Changes — “With cases in the region, including Arlington, we are taking critical steps to slow down the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), as the health and safety of our employees and our community is our top priority. While we will be making changes to some programs and services, we will continue to operate essential government services for our residents and businesses.” [Arlington County]

Visits Cancelled at County Jail — “All Professional Visits will be non-contact for a minimum of 30 days. All Personal Visits will be cancelled for a minimum of 30 days. All programs will be cancelled for a minimum of 30 days.” [Arlington County]

Jury Trials Postponed — “As of March 15, the Circuit Court has postponed all jury trials & released witnesses from subpoenas through March 31. Other hearings & sentencing dockets are also postponed. See attached. Arraignments & bond motions will still be heard.” [Twitter]

Metro Reduces Service — “As of 2 p.m., Friday, March 13, Metro has further escalated its response to Phase 3 of its Pandemic Flu Plan. Phase 3 is the highest level of response and will include all subsequent mitigation steps required during the public health emergency… Monday-Friday: Trains will operate every 12 minutes on each line throughout the day. The rail system will maintain normal hours, opening at 5 a.m.” [WMATA]

Visitor Restrictions at Va. Hospital Center — “Effective March 12, we have implemented new visitation restrictions to protect the health and safety of our patients and staff from the spread of COVID-19.” [Instagram]

Restaurant Delivering Free Meals — “Between the empty grocery store shelves, scary headlines, and mass closures, it’s hard not to feel like the world is ending. Which is why Medium Rare owner Mark Bucher wanted to do something to make people’s lives a little easier. So yesterday, he posted a message on Twitter: If anyone over the age of 70 needed a meal, his restaurant would make sure they got one.” [Washingtonian]

Few Crowds at Pentagon City Mall — The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall was “almost dead” at noon on Saturday as most shoppers sayed away. Meanwhile, a reader took a video of people in full body suits in the Victoria’s Secret store; it’s unclear whether they were cleaning the store or otherwise. [Twitter, Twitter]

Crash on N. Glebe Road Saturday — A crash at N. Glebe Road and Pershing Drive sent a car careening into a lamp post, over a sidewalk and smashing into the parking lot of the Buckingham Center strip mall on Saturday. [Twitter]

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A woman accused of attacking two nannies in a dispute over her child’s behavior in a local park has a court date set for next month.

Falls Church resident Fatimazahra Berrada, 31, is set for a Dec. 3 trial date on two misdemeanor charges of assault and battery.

The charges stem from a dispute in the park near the Lyon Park Community Center on Sept. 23. We’re told two nannies confronted Berrada about alleged aggressive behavior by her child toward their charges. According to police, that escalated into a shouting match and Berrada throwing a playground toy and striking one of the nannies in the face.

More from an Arlington County Police crime report:

ASSAULT & BATTERY, 2019-09230176, N. Garfield Street at 4th Street N. At approximately 3:10 p.m. on September 23, police were dispatched to the report of a fight. Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect and the two female victims were in a park when they became engaged in a verbal dispute over the way children in their care were playing. The incident escalated and the suspect allegedly began yelling and threw a playground toy at the victims before striking one victim in the face. Medics responded to the scene and no significant injuries were reported. The victims declined prosecution at the time of the incident. Charges were later sought on October 4 and the suspect turned herself in to police on October 8. Fatimazahra Berrada, 31, of Falls Church, VA, was charged with Assault and Battery (x2).

The incident led to outrage on the neighborhood’s Nextdoor network after a resident posted that “racist insults” were yelled at the nannies during the incident. A source tells ARLnow that the victims alleged being told to “go back to your country,” but police and prosecutors did not find enough evidence to seek a longer sentence based on a bias-motivated crime, adding that the dispute originated with the discussion of child behavior.

The November issue of the Lyon Park Citizen Association newsletter included allegations of an “ugly incident in our community park” sparked by “a woman passing by [who] took offense at the fact they were speaking in Spanish.” Police told ARLnow they have no evidence of that sequence of events happening, however.

“It is hard to believe that the woman… hasn’t gotten the message posted in front yards across our community — Hate Has No Home Here!” the newsletter says.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Overturned Vehicle on GW Parkway — “The northbound George Washington Parkway was closed [past Key Bridge] during Tuesday morning’s rush hour after a vehicle overturned, authorities said… The southbound side of the parkway was also affected.” [Washington Post]

Transgender Policy Discussion at School Board Meeting — “Students, parents and advocates packed the [Arlington school] board meeting to loudly back [a transgender non-discrimination] plan, waving miniature LGBT and transgender pride flags to signal agreement with the nearly three dozen speakers who proclaimed support… Supporters on Tuesday vastly outnumbered those who turned out to protest the plans.” [Washington Post]

Good Samaritan Murder Trial — “The Good Samaritan who intervened to try to stop a sexual assault in Arlington last fall was beaten so badly it was impossible to tell what killed him, a medical examiner testified Monday.” [Washington Post]

Feds Giving Grant to DCA — “Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Washington Dulles International both will see millions in funding from the FAA for improvements. DCA is slated to get $4,921,500 in funding.” [WUSA 9, Press Release]

ACFD Chief Battalion Honored — “Chief Wesley was recognized at the event for being the #first #AfricanAmericanWoman Battalion Chief not only in @ArlingtonVA but also the entire Northern Virginia region.” [Twitter]

Amazon HQ2 Jobs Update — There are currently 63 positions listed on Amazon’s HQ2 jobs page, many of them technical. Recently listed job titles include “Region Build Technical Program Manager,” “Full Stack Software Development Engineer” and “Systems Development Manager, Cloud Computing Operations.” [Amazon]

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David Black (photo courtesy ACPD)David Black, who was convicted in November of murdering his estranged wife in her home near Pentagon City, will serve two consecutive life sentences in prison.

The sentence, which was recommended by the jury, was confirmed by an Arlington Circuit Court judge Wednesday afternoon.

Black lived just blocks away from his wife, Bonnie Delgado Black, in the Arlington Ridge neighborhood. Prosecutors say he broke into her home on April 17, 2015 and stabbed her to death.

The murder scene was discovered after neighbors found Black’s two young children wandering around outside the home that morning.

More from an Arlington County Police Department press release:

David Black, 45, of Arlington, VA was sentenced on Wednesday, February 8, 2017 in the Arlington County Circuit Court to two consecutive life terms in prison for the 2015 murder of Bonnie Black.

Theophani K. Stamos, Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney and M. Jay Farr, Arlington County’s Chief of Police made the announcement following the court appearance.

On April 17, 2015, officers were dispatched to the 1100 block of 18th Street S. after two concerned citizens located the Black children alone outside their residence and called police for assistance. Arriving officers located Bonnie Black deceased from an apparent stabbing inside the residence. Detectives began an intensive investigation revealing that Bonnie Black was the victim of domestic violence.

David Black, the estranged husband of Bonnie Black, was taken into custody in October 2015 pursuant to an indictment issued by a special investigative grand jury. The indictment and subsequent bench warrant charged him with one count of first degree murder and one count of burglary while armed with the intent to commit a felony. On November 8, 2016, a jury returned a unanimous verdict finding David Black guilty on both counts.

Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Theophani K. Stamos said, “The imposition of two life sentences for the murder of Bonnie Black speaks volumes about our community’s views when it comes to domestic violence.  We’re grateful to Judge Newman and the jury for their hard work, deep consideration and attention throughout a very difficult trial.”

Arlington County Deputy Chief Daniel J. Murray, Commander of the Criminal Investigations Division said, “This horrific murder personalized the investigation for the entire Criminal Investigations Section, many of whom had children themselves. They worked relentlessly for the cause of justice. The complex investigation, prosecution and ultimate conviction were possible because of a strong partnership between the Homicide/Robbery Unit and the Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office. Unfortunately nothing can bring Bonnie Black back to her loving family colleagues and friends but it is our fervent hope that we have been able to provide them with some closure.”

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Morning Notes

Trump cutout goes out with the recycling after Election Day (photo courtesy Ari P.)

David Black Convicted, Sentenced for Wife’s Murder — An Arlington County jury this week found Arlington Ridge resident David Black guilty of murdering his wife. Bonnie Delgado Black was found stabbed to death in her home, which was just blocks from her estranged husband’s house, on April 17, 2015. Yesterday the jury recommended that Black serve two life sentences. [NBC 4, WTOP]

County Board Ditches New Year’s Day Meeting — Eschewing a long-standing tradition of holding its first meeting of the year on New Year’s Day, the Arlington County Board yesterday voted unanimously to hold its 2017 organizational meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 3. “We still will start our year off with the community, but without forcing employees to give up their personal and family time on a holiday,” said County Board Chair Libby Garvey. [Arlington County]

Retail Space for WeWork in Crystal City — The County Board on Saturday voted to convert 440 square feet of the WeWork and WeLive building in Crystal City to ground floor retail space, at the request of WeWork. No word yet on what kind of a retailer may be moving in. [Arlington County]

More on Park Protests — “Our Man in Arlington” columnist Charlie Clark has tackled the dual controversies of the baseball field fence in Bluemont Park (the Board acted on that yesterday, article coming soon) and the proposed Williamsburg Middle School athletic field lights. Clark concluded: “Popular sports for kids, peaceful green parks: competing Arlington virtues.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Evolent Health Stock Soars — As of 10 a.m. the share price for Ballston-based Evolent Health is up more than 12 percent today and nearly 70 percent for the year. The tech firm reported a narrower-than-expected loss and higher-than-expected revenue in the third quarter of 2016. [CNBC, Yahoo]

Board Approves Loan for Apartment Renovations — The Culpepper Garden affordable apartment complex for low-income seniors will receive needed renovations thanks to a $9.9 million loan from Arlington’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund. The County Board unanimously approved the loan yesterday. The renovations are expected to begin in the spring and will require tenants to temporarily move to other units on site while their units are renovated. [Arlington County]

Photo courtesy Ari P.

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