Where the victim reached into appellant’s car, believing appellant was holding her identification, appellant was correctly convicted of unlawful wounding after she dragged the victim 20 feet with her car.
Appellant Ward drove to Young’s workplace to allow Young to look through her car for missing identification and bank cards. Young believed the items may have fallen from her purse the day before when she was in Ward’s car.
Young noticed Ward was holding Young’s identification. Young went to the driver’s side and placed herself between the open door and the car. When she reached in to grab her identification, Ward put the car in reverse and dragged Young 20 feet. Young’s adult daughter witnessed the event.
Young was injured. Ward claimed she put the car in reverse in an attempt to escape Young. Ward asserted Young was hitting her in the back of the head. Ward appeals her unlawful wounding conviction, arguing there was insufficient evidence to convict.
“Ward alleges that the trial court improperly convicted her based on the ‘contradictory’ and ‘biased’ testimony of Young and her daughter. This Court holds that the trial court did not err.
“The credibility of the witnesses and the weight accorded the evidence are matters solely for the fact finder who has the opportunity to see and hear that evidence as it is presented.” …
“Although Young had some issues with her recollection and the testimony of Young and her daughter was not entirely consistent, their material testimony was not so manifestly false nor so contrary to human experience as to render it unworthy of belief. There is no basis in the record to find the testimony of Young and her daughter to be inherently incredible.”
“Ward also contends that the evidence is insufficient to sustain her conviction for unlawful wounding because she was acting out of self-preservation, not unlawfully. Ward argues that Young subjected her to ‘a barrage of blows’ and that she necessarily ‘accelerated in reverse in an attempt to flee Young’s onslaught.’
“Ward contends that because her conduct amounted to lawful self-defense, the evidence does not support her conviction for unlawful wounding.
“Assuming without deciding that Ward’s self-defense argument is encompassed within her assignment of error, this Court finds that the evidence supports the trial court’s finding of guilt. The trial court found that whether or not Young struck Ward, Ward acted unlawfully in dragging Young twenty feet with her car.
“‘[T]he amount of force used to defend oneself must not be excessive and must be reasonable in relation to the perceived threat.’ … [T]his Court concludes that a rational fact-finder could find that Ward’s use of her car to drag Young on the ground for twenty feet constituted excessive force in response to the alleged threat posed by Young.
“Therefore, the evidence was sufficient to support Ward’s conviction for unlawful wounding.”
Ward v. Commonwealth, Record No. 1419-21-1, July 26, 2022. CAV (Chaney) From the Circuit Court of the City of Newport News (Mills) Christopher T. Voltin for appellant. Stephen J. Sovinsky, Jason S. Miyares for appellee. VLW 022-7-281, 5 pp. Unpublished opinion.