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Body Found in Richmond, Venue in County

Although defendant argues there was no evidence the victim’s murder occurred in Chesterfield County when his body was discovered in the city of Richmond, 150 feet from the county line, venue was proper in Chesterfield County under Va. Code §§ 19.2-247 and 19.2-250(B); the Court of Appeals affirms defendant’s murder and firearm convictions

Richmond police found the body of a man who had been shot and killed, 150 feet from the Chesterfield County border. The murder investigation was later transferred to Chesterfield County police and defendant was indicted in Chesterfield County for murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

At trial, the commonwealth was unable to present evidence establishing the location of the murder. Defendant raised a motion objecting to venue in Chesterfield County, citing Va. Code § 19.2-247. While acknowledging that the body was found in Richmond, the commonwealth argued that venue was appropriate in Chesterfield County because Code § 19.2-250(B) extends Chesterfield County’s jurisdiction in criminal cases involving offenses against the commonwealth one mile beyond the limits of such county into the City of Richmond. The trial court denied the objection to venue. Defendant was convicted of second-degree murder and use of a firearm.

Defendant concedes the general interpretation of Code § 19.2-250(A) but maintains that it does not follow that Chesterfield County has authority to prosecute homicides that were not proven to have occurred in the statutory boundary simply because the victim’s body was located there. Defendant asserts that Code § 19.2-250 refers only to crimes committed in the city of Richmond, but within one mile of the Chesterfield County border, but not crimes committed “at an unknown location.”

Defendant misconstrues Code § 19.2-247. The statute does not simply establish venue in the city or county in which the body of the victim was located; iiiit treats the homicide as if it was committed there.iii This consideration is critical to the resolution of the matter presented. It highlights where Code §§ 19.2-247 and 19.2-250(B) converge and explains why the statutes must be read together. Because the parties concede that the victim’s body was located in the city of Richmond, within one mile of the county border, we must treat the homicide as if it occurred there. The relevant Code sections make the offense amenable to prosecution in Chesterfield County. When we construe the statutes together, it is plain that Chesterfield County was the appropriate venue in which to prosecute defendant.

Conviction of second-degree murder and use of a firearm affirmed.

Kirby v. Commonwealth (Alston) No. 2307-12-2, Sept. 2, 2014; Chesterfield Cir. Ct. (Burgess) Todd M. Ritter for appellant; Craig W. Stallard, AAG, for appellee. VLW 014-7-265, 7 pp.


VLW 014-7-265

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