Jermaine Doss always insisted that he did not hire an employee to kill another man, as he was convicted of doing 13 years ago.
The shooter later recanted and sent Doss an apology letter, saying police and prosecutors threatened him with the death penalty if he didn't testify against him.
Doss's family also questions the conduct of former Norfolk detective Robert Glenn Ford, who was convicted in 2011 in unrelated cases of extorting money from criminals and lying to the FBI about it.
With few options left for an appeal, Doss's family traveled from their home in Norfolk to Richmond on Monday to ask Gov. Bob McDonnell to look into the case and pardon Doss in the 1998 killing of James M. Webb. They have created an online petition.
"We have a voice. We're trying to be heard," said Doss' sister, Felicia Dixon-Bray.
Phil Wilayto, a Richmond activist who has been working with the family, says the group was directed from the governor’s mansion to his office in the Patrick Henry Building, where a staffer met them “inside the entrance but before the metal detector” and explained the procedure and gave the family a form to fill out.
A spokeswoman for McDonnell confirmed that a staffer met with the family.
Doss, 40, is serving a life sentence at Sussex II State Prison.
Doss owned a hair salon and had sold drugs. Webb, who had worked for his family's refrigeration business and was a cocaine addict, was shot in the back of the head in his home in Larchmont. The shooter, Nathaniel McGee, testified in court that he worked for Doss and that Doss hired him to kill Webb. Prosecutors agreed not to charge him with capital murder in exchange for his testimony.
But McGee said during a court hearing in 2006 that he alone decided to kill Webb because Webb had disrespected him and threatened his life. He refused to say, however, who drove him to Webb's house that night and then said he couldn't remember.
That 2006 hearing followed a new law that allowed a convicted person to present evidence of innocence long after trial. Circuit Judge Everett A. Martin Jr. issued a ruling saying he didn't believe McGee's new testimony.
So, we’ve all heard -- Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli has been thwarted in his efforts to preserve the state’s “crimes against nature” statute, which makes oral and anal sex between consenting adults a class-six felony.
(If you haven’t heard: This week the Supreme Court declined Cuccinelli’s request that it reconsider a lower courts decision to strike down the state law.)
With the sex acts safe for now, it might be time to get the attorney general up to speed on modern sexual practices. Alison Barber, owner of Taboo in Richmond, offers a few patriotic-themed suggestions. Here they are in reverse order of importance:
5. In Anal Sluts We Trust
4. Swallow the Leader
3. Assministrator's Assistant
2. Exploring UR Anus
1. Facial the Nation
Barber suggested a lot of other filthy titles for Cuccinelli. They were, believe it or not, too dirty to print.
Richmond City Council members piled into a conference room at the University of Richmond on Monday to brainstorm ways they could, you know, be a better City Council.
It was part of the council’s annual, day-long retreat, and ideas flowed for hours. As individual council members made suggestions, staffers wrote them down on giant pieces of easel paper and stuck them to the wall -- no judgment, no debate. Just raw ideas.
Curious what your elected representatives think would raise their profile and make them a more effective, powerful body? We’ve got you covered. We transcribed verbatim the (often incomprehensible) notations that made it to paper and fed them into the randomizer above.
Each click brings us closer to becoming a tier-one city.
App by Ned Oliver, Ed Herrington and Taber Bain.
A mystery safe unearthed in Shockoe Slip has been opened.
Construction workers building two Marriott hotels at 14th and Cary streets dug up the safe earlier this month, as Style Weekly first reported Sept. 10. It dated back to a Baltimore manufacturer of safes in the 1800s.
Richmond-based manufacturing firm Tektonics Design Group “carefully opened” the safe, says Kelly Clarke, director of investor services for the site’s owner, Apple REIT.
Michael Smith, a project manager at Tektonics, cut into the bottom using "a grinder and a cut-off wheel."
Clarke reveals the safe’s contents as:
- A newspaper from 1963,
- Various documents that appear to be from a business that operated on the site,
- A metal box,
- A wooden drawer and
- Several keys.
Clarke also sent along these photos:
Smith says he isn’t disappointed by the safe’s lackluster contents: “I didn’t expect to find a pot of gold or anything crazy.”
Clarke says a representative for the Virginia Department of Historical Resources was on site while the safe was opened and deemed the contents “not historically significant.”
A panel of judges in Richmond ruled today that liking stuff on Facebook constitutes constitutionally protected free speech.
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling reverses a lower court’s ruling that “liking” a Facebook page is “insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection,” according to the Virginia ACLU, which filed an amicus brief in the case. Here’s the press release the group sent out:
The question of whether or not a Facebook "Like" constitutes free expression arose from a case in which employees of the Sheriff's Department of Hampton argued that their free speech and association rights were violated when they were fired from their jobs because they supported the Sheriff's opponent during an election. One of the plaintiffs had "liked" the opponent's Facebook page.
When a user "likes" content or a page, Facebook also publicizes that user's "Like" action to that user's friends, essentially announcing the user's interest in or appreciation of that content or page.
In the opinion, the Fourth Circuit held that "liking a political candidate's campaign page communicates the user's approval of the candidate and supports the campaign by associating the user with it. In this way, it is the Internet equivalent of displaying a political sign in one's front yard, which the Supreme Court has held is substantive speech."
The ruling was silent on whether friend requests and pokes also qualify as protected speech.
Update: Asked about the criticism, Joy Monopoli, publisher of Richmond Suburban News, emails a response:
Richmond Suburban News is a group of community weekly and monthly newspapers based in Mechanicsville. We currently have community newspapers in Hanover, Goochland, Chesterfield, Powhatan, Cumberland and King William counties that are popular with readers and advertisers alike. RSN is expanding to bring our style of hyper-local news, information and advertising solutions to the citizens and businesses of Henrico County. We look forward to covering the people, places and events that make Henrico County a great place to live and work through the pages of Henrico TD.
The publisher of the 12-year-old community weekly the Henrico Citizen weighs in on Henrico TD, a competing weekly planning to launch in October from the company that owns the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Tom Lappas, a former Top 40 Under 40 recipient, writes in a Facebook post that he welcomes competition, but that the new publication's primary goal is "to kill us off, no matter how much money it hemorrhages in the process."
The creation of the Henrico TD, along with a rebranding of the Midlothian Exchange as Chesterfield TD, was announced earlier this week.
Here's the complete post from Lappas:
Today is the 12th anniversary of the first issue of my newspaper. I'm proud to celebrate another year in business and tremendously appreciative of all of our readers and advertisers. They're proof that community journalism is alive and well.
Somewhat ironically, the company that owns the Richmond Times-Dispatch announced two days ago that it will be starting a Henrico paper next month. Regrettably, it appears to be doing so not to enter the market as a true competitor with a solid business model, but rather – as its advertising rates make blatantly clear – with the primary goal of undercutting independent publications like mine to kill us off, no matter how much money it hemorrhages in the process. This is disappointing, but not surprising.
I may not have a newsroom full of reporters or a stable of salespeople, but our little team has worked too hard for too long to be bullied out of business, and I'm not planning to go anywhere. Sorry to disappoint you, RTD. Oh, and please cancel my Sunday subscription.
A recent following spree by Republican gubernatorial hopeful Ken Cuccinelli on the social media outlet Instagram elicited a few strong reactions among Richmond users, mostly along the lines of #eww.
While Cuccinelli has been active on most social networking platforms, his attempt to infiltrate the hipster corner of Instagram appears to be a struggle so far. The reaction around Richmond to follows from his account seemed mostly that of shock.
While such reactions may represent votes against Cuccinelli in general, those taking the time to peruse his Instagram feed might also have been disappointed. Great Instagram opportunities ranging from Waffle House to a litter of kittens are squandered by poor composition and an apparent lack of understanding of the nuances of the site’s various filters.
Regardless of what Cuccinelli is putting out there, until Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe has an account, Instagram users clearly are missing the chance to make an informed decision in November.
Last night the Richmond Outreach Center’s board of directors spoke out for the first time about why they fired Geronimo Aguilar. Could it maybe have had something to do with the fact that the church’s former senior pastor was suddenly facing felony charges in Texas for allegedly sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl and her 14-year-old sister?
Nope. Here’s the board'sstatement:
“After our former pastor was arrested related to charges in Texas, the Board of Directors became aware of his multiple extramarital affairs with members of our church and community. This Biblically disqualified him from the office of pastor and leadership of The ROC in any capacity. The Board of Directors is committed to providing godly leadership at all levels of ministry.”
Setting aside any quibbles about whether alleged affairs are more or less godly than alleged child molestation, the statement isn’t exactly a bombshell. Months ago two women, including Aguilar’s former personal assistant of 10 years -- spoke publicly on WRIC-TV8’s news broadcast about their affairs with Aguilar. And the board continued to stand by Aguilar after those broadcasts.
Even before the Texas charges started making headlines, the rumors of his infidelity were apparently persistent enough that Aguilar felt compelled to address them from the pulpit. From our July cover story on Aguilar and the church:
"He would say: 'You're going to hear a bunch of stuff and none of it's true, it's all just the work of the devil. I need people I can trust and you can trust me and we're brothers, so if you've got stuff to talk about, you can come to me,'" Ronnie Wright says. "But you really couldn't come to him."
So what prompted the board’s statement last night? “We have all been going through a time of grieving and hurt over the moral failings of our former Senior Pastor,” the statement says. “In light of continued questions regarding the departure of our former Senior Pastor, the Board of Directors would like to clarify the reason for the departure.”
Aguilar’s lawyer, David Carlson, didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment. But in July he denied all rumors -- and there were lots of them -- that his client had been unfaithful to his wife. And when Style asked if Aguilar had any regrets about his time at the ROC, Carlson responded bluntly: “None.”
Now is as good a time as any to read our in-depth look at the church. It covers what life was like for parishioners -- many of whom left the church well before the scandal started making headlines. And it follows Aguilar’s life from California, where he joined his father’s controversial church as a teenager, to Texas, where the alleged child molestation took place, and finally to Richmond, where he started the ROC with the support of the local evangelical community.
The state’s war dead, it turns out, might not be the biggest fans of folk music.
A board member of the Virginia War Memorial has joined opponents of a proposed new amphitheater that would serve as the main stage of Venture Richmond’s annual folk festival. The memorial sits just above the grassy slope that would be used for seating -- meaning it would more or less be blasted by music when the venue is used for a performance.
“The potential for noise and parking congestion from the proposed amphitheater would adversely impact the solemnity and dignity of the Virginia War Memorial,” writes War Memorial board of trustees member Delegate Richard Anderson in a letter to the city planning commission.
Anderson, a retired 30-year Air Force colonel and chair of the General Assembly Military and Veteran caucus, is urging the planning commission to block approval. He emphasized that he was speaking for himself and not the Virginia War Memorial.
The planning commission will hear the issue Monday at a meeting scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at City Hall. The Urban Design Committee, which voted on the issue last week, forwarded the proposal to the commission without a recommendation after a 4-4 tie vote.
Venture Richmond is attempting to rally supporters to the meeting, saying if the planning commission doesn’t approve the amphitheater it might be forced to cancel future folk festivals entirely. The organization didn’t respond to an email from Style seeking comment. Lisa Sims, Venture Richmond’s deputy director, told RVANews that the festival’s future is “a definite uncertainty,” because, beginning next year, the land the group has been using for the main stage will no longer be available and no other suitable locations exist in the area.
The amphitheater would sit at the base of what’s now a parking lot for visitors to Belle Isle off of Tredegar Street and next to the new Second Street connector.
Neighborhood advocates and historical preservationists have taken a dim view of the proposal. They worry about noise and about plans to alter a canal surveyed and designed by George Washington that intersects the seating area.
“This is basically very poor planning to damage George Washington’s canal in order to aim Richmond's loudest outdoor stage directly at the Virginia War Memorial,” says Charles Pool.
"Her dance with Mr. Clifford was rather acrobatic, but by no means unusual. The finish was an Arab Whirl."
So reads a 1914 Richmond News Leader article detailing the on-stage arrest of performer Evelyn Nesbit Thaw. The officer who took her into custody in front of a packed house accused her of causing “serious moral harm to the community.”
The controversy is covered in a blog post today from the Valentine Richmond History Center dedicated to the Scenes and Scandals of city theater scene of yore.
Was Thaw allowed to keep dancing? Would controversy only serve to increase ticket sales? How has Richmond theater gotten less perverted over the past 100 years?