Violent Crime

Shining a Light on VA's Death Row

Mar 18, 2015

This week civic groups and nonprofits are taking a closer look at the importance of open government and freedom of information for Sunshine week.  

Sunshine is absent in the death chambers of Virginia, where the public has no access to basic information about how inmates are killed. Policies and procedures outlining the process are concealed from view. Training manuals are closely guarded. Even specific details about how executions are carried out are kept secret. 

"I'm not clear what there is to hide here."

Jesse Matthew, Jr. Charged in Murder of Hannah Graham

Feb 10, 2015

Nearly five months after University of Virginia student Hannah Graham went missing, the man last seen with her has now been indicted for murder. 

Earlier this month, an Albemarle County grand jury charged  Matthew with abduction and murder in the death of the 18-year-old student.

"These indictments signal the beginning of the next phase in what has been an incredibly difficult process for the family of Hannah Graham, for our community, and for the men and women of the many departments and agencies who have worked on this matter since September of last year."

DNA Could Offer Another Avenue for Serial's Syed

Feb 9, 2015
Hawes Spencer

The popular NPR podcast Serial is back in the headlines with news that a young Maryland man convicted of killing his high-school girlfriend will get the opportunity to appeal.

Here in Virginia, a separate effort is underway to determine whether the guy featured in Serial is the real killer.

Sharat Ganapti/Creative Commons https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Should universities be required to report sexual assaults to police?  That a question being hotly debated in Richmond this week. 

After Jesse Matthew Junior was charged with kidnapping Hannah Graham, the public learned he was earlier accused of sexual assault at two other universities in Virginia.  That led Charlottesville Democrat David Toscano to draft  House Bill 2139 – a measure that would require schools to report such claims to police, and a new poll by the Commonwealth Education Policy Institute shows strong public support for the idea.

Photo: Hawes Spencer

Charlottesville police say the murder of two women over the weekend was not a random act – that a man now in custody knew at least one of his victims. 

Police Chief Tim Longo said the arrest of 30-year-old Gene Washington came after officers  searched outside the Barracks Road West apartment complex and questioned neighbors about the brutal murders of elementary school teacher Robin Aldridge and her 17-year-old daughter Mani.

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