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Judge Marla Graff Decker

Mar 28, 2023

Sentence modification correctly denied

Where appellant pleaded guilty to aggravated malicious assault and received a life sentence and a $100,000 fine, the trial court correctly determined that he had not proved any mitigating circumstances when it refused to modify his sentence. Hammer attack In 2015, appellant attacked Pedroza with a claw hammer at the retail store where Pedroza worked. […]

Feb 13, 2023

Collateral estoppel does not bar gun evidence

Where a Chesterfield County jury acquitted appellant of being a felon in possession of a firearm, collateral estoppel does not bar introduction of the same firearm and related photos at his Richmond murder trial. Background An eyewitness identified appellant as the victim’s shooter. The victim later died from his wound. Appellant and the victim, his […]

Feb 4, 2023

Refusal to exclude juror for cause upheld

Where a juror at appellant’s trials for rape, unlawful filming and other sex and assaultive crimes stated during voir dire that she had a friend who was raped, the trial court properly denied a defense motion to strike the juror. Motion to strike juror “During voir dire, the prosecutor asked the jurors whether they would […]

Litter of kittens
Jan 16, 2023

Breeder’s bid for higher damages claim blocked

A cat-breeder’s attempt to sweeten the kitty by demanding damages beyond the district court’s $25,000 jurisdictional limit while on appeal to the circuit court has been rejected by the Court of Appeals of Virginia. Despite winning at trial, the breeder appealed to the circuit court and was granted leave to amend her complaint, which added […]

Jan 12, 2023

Felon constructively possessed firearm

Where there was a shotgun in a bedroom closet at appellant’s home, he was properly convicted of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. There was sufficient evidence that he had constructive possession of the shotgun. Discussion “To prove constructive possession of a firearm, ‘the Commonwealth must present evidence of acts, statements, or conduct […]

Jan 5, 2023

Damages claim beyond district court limit rejected

Where, in an appeal from the general district court, plaintiff-appellant’s amended complaint sought damages beyond the district court’s $25,000 jurisdictional limit, the amended complaint was outside the circuit court’s jurisdiction. The jury’s verdict for appellant is vacated. Detinue claim Appellee Pritchard breeds cats. Appellant Ruderman was a veterinarian. Their dispute centered on tr[...]

Dec 20, 2022

Venue provision not applicable

Where a sod company contracted with a transportation company to move sod from Kentucky to a soccer field in Virginia, a forum selection clause in a 2012 contract between the transportation company and a separate entity related to the sod company does not govern the current dispute. Further, the parties’ email exchanges in 2020 formed […]

Dec 20, 2022

Continuance request on trial day properly denied

Where appellant moved for a continuance on the morning of his rape trial to follow up on information the prosecution provided eight months earlier, the trial court correctly denied the motion. Further, the record belies appellant’s argument that he was not permitted to ask the victim about her prior rape accusations against him. Finally, the […]

Dec 15, 2022

Conviction for bribing a witness affirmed

Appellant’s conviction for bribing a witness is affirmed based on the victim-witness’ credible testimony. Overview “Appellant was convicted of abducting and raping G.H. in 2004. G.H. did not testify because he pled guilty and was convicted in a manner consistent with his plea agreement. At that time, G.H. knew the appellant as ‘Ricky T.’” G.H. […]

Dec 8, 2022

Self-defense, heat of passion claims rejected

Where, in this malicious wounding case, appellant presented alternate theories that he was either acting in self-defense when he shot the victim or that he acted in the heat of passion after the victim used racially charged language, the trial court properly rejected both theories. Self-defense “The appellant argues that the trial court should have […]

Oct 23, 2022

Probable cause permitted vehicle search without warrant

Where police knew appellant always drove a white plumbing truck when he met with appellant to sell him drugs, police had probable cause to search the vehicle when police saw it at the appointed place and time to met with an informant who was making a controlled buy from appellant for the police. The search […]

Oct 16, 2022

Felon constructively possessed drugs and ammo found in truck

Where the evidence showed that appellant was the only occupant of a truck abandoned in the woods, the trial court properly concluded that he possessed the ammunition and drugs found in the truck during the execution of a search warrant. Sole occupant “The appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to prove that he possessed […]

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