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Va. justices toss convictions of ex-Dem official

(AP) The Supreme Court of Virginia has overturned the convictions of a former Democratic Party official who was accused of molesting three children.

Michael Armin Gardner was convicted of molesting two girls who attended a slumber party for his daughter’s 10th birthday. An Arlington County Circuit Court jury was unable to reach a verdict on a charge related to a third child. The 50-year-old former chairman of the Democratic committee in Falls Church was sentenced to 22 years in prison.

In a 6-1 ruling Thursday (VLW 014-5-058), the Supreme Court said the trial judge improperly barred two character witnesses from testifying about whether Gardner had a reputation as a good caretaker of children. Their testimony was limited to Gardner’s general reputation for honesty and peacefulness.

— LARRY O’DELL, Associated Press

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