Virginia Lawyers Weekly//August 8, 2022
Virginia Lawyers Weekly//August 8, 2022//
Where appellant was charged with racketeering, possession with intent to distribute marijuana and a firearm charge related to the marijuana, there was ample support in the record to justify the circuit court’s decision to deny pretrial bail.
“On appeal, appellant argues that the circuit court abused its discretion in finding that he posed an unreasonable danger to himself, his family or household members, or the public if released on bail. …
“Our review of the record indicates that there was significant support for the circuit court’s determination that the presumption in favor of bail was rebutted by the Commonwealth. Therefore, we reject appellant’s argument and hold that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in denying his motion for bail.
“Here, appellant was charged with racketeering activity, possession with intent to distribute more than one ounce but less than five pounds of marijuana, and possession of a firearm while possessing with intent to distribute marijuana.
“The circuit court heard details of the underlying circumstances of the offenses, namely appellant’s involvement in a large-scale drug trafficking conspiracy. …
“Appellant’s role in this organization was as a courier of drugs, transporting the marijuana from western states to Northern Virginia for distribution. Appellant also participated in the organization as a distributor of the marijuana.
“The Commonwealth alleged that the drug trafficking organization was responsible for the death of Yousef Omar. While there was no direct evidence that appellant was involved in the murder, on the day of Omar’s death, appellant was in communication with one of the other defendants allegedly involved in the murder.
“In addition, appellant sent and received text messages hours after Omar’s death that discussed throwing something away. Following Omar’s death, appellant did not cease to participate in the drug trafficking organization’s activities, but instead was arrested while at another defendant’s home where police found approximately a pound of marijuana.
“Further, a firearm belonging to appellant was found in the apartment he shared with his brother, along with considerable other evidence of drug distribution. …
“Appellant further argues that the Commonwealth’s proffers only established that he was a courier of drugs and that the offenses he was charged with were all drug charges that were non-violent in nature. This argument is also unpersuasive when viewed in the light of all the information presented to the circuit court.
“While the information indicated that appellant was a courier of drugs and did not directly participate in Omar’s killing, appellant also had a firearm at his brother’s apartment and was pictured holding a firearm that he was pointing at a camera.
“Thus, the circuit court could view the combination of drug distribution and firearm possession as factors indicating that appellant’s release would constitute an unreasonable danger to the public.”
Eman v. Commonwealth, Record No. 1102-21-4, June 7, 2022. CAV (Malveaux) From the Circuit Court of the City of Alexandria (Uston). Patrick L. Edwards for appellant. Robert Strange for appellee. VLW 022-7-180, 10 pp. Unpublished opinion.