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2017-12-27 / News Briefs

News Briefs

BY RICH GRISET AND JIM McCONNELL

Key House election hangs in the balance

A local politician’s hold on the top leadership position in the House of Delegates remains in limbo as legal manuevering delayed a decision on a disputed ballot in the deadlocked race for the 94th District seat. 

State election officials announced last week they would meet Dec. 27 in Richmond to draw names and break the unprecedented tie between Republican incumbent David Yancey and Democratic challenger Shelly Simonds in the race for the Newport News House seat. 

Both candidates emerged from a contentious recount process last week with 11,608 votes.

Simonds, however, is planning to file a legal challenge in Newport News Circuit Court on Wednesday challenging the decision by a three-judge panel overseeing the recount process to count an additional ballot for Yancey. The legal challenge has postponed the Dec. 27 name drawing. 

The outcome most likely will determine whether Del. Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, who represents part of Chesterfield, becomes the next House speaker when the 2018 General Assembly session begins Jan. 10.

Cox, a retired county teacher, was chosen as the House Republican Caucus speaker-designee last February, when the GOP held a 66-34 advantage in the chamber. But Democrats flipped at least 15 seats in a stunning “wave election” last month and threatened to end Cox’s speakership before it begins.

Should Simonds win the 94th District and create a 50-all tie in the House, Democrats likely will get to choose the next speaker.

Court upholds ‘no-body’ murder conviction

The Virginia Court of Appeals has upheld a second-degree murder conviction in a “no-body” murder case, the first conviction of its kind in Chesterfield.

The case concerns the April 2012 disappearance and presumed murder of Leyla Namiranian, an Altria executive and Chesterfield resident. Michael Anthony Edwards was found guilty of second-degree murder of his former girlfriend in April of 2016. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

On Dec. 19, the appeals court rejected Edwards’ claims that the jury trial had erred in “denying his motion to dismiss for improper venue, and … finding sufficient evidence to support his conviction,” according to a 16-page written opinion.

The ruling came less than two weeks after Chesterfield prosecutors won their second “no body” murder conviction. In that case, Dr. John E. Gibbs III was found guilty of first-degree murder of his longtime girlfriend Zulma L. Pabon by a jury, according to media reports. Gibbs was found guilty on Dec. 7, with a recommended sentence of 50 years in prison. His sentencing is set for March 12.

Police investigating armed robbery

A Chesterfield convenience store was robbed by three armed men early on the morning of Dec. 19, county police say.

The men entered a 7-Eleven store at 1924 Walnut Drive at about 4:20 a.m. and demanded money. One of the suspects was armed with a handgun and another had a rifle. Nobody was injured during the incident, but the suspects fled with an undisclosed amount of cash.

The first suspect is described as average height with a thin build. He was wearing a blue hooded jacket, black pants with white stripes, black shoes and had a red scarf covering his face.

The second suspect is also described as average height with a thin build. He was wearing a black hooded jacket, black pants and black shoes, with a black bandana covering his face.

The third suspect is described as average height and average build. He was wearing a plaid jacket with a dark hood, dark pants and shoes, with a white bandana covering his face.

Police continue their investigation into this incident. Anyone with information should contact the Chesterfield County Police Department at 804-748-1251 or Crime Solvers at 804-748-0660.

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