Arlington Commonwealth's Attorney Richard E. Trodden to retire

By Allison Klein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 1, 2010; 11:01 PM

Arlington County Commonwealth's Attorney Richard E. Trodden, who during his 17-year tenure prosecuted such high-profile cases as the sodomy trial of sportscaster Marv Albert, will retire at the end of his term next year, he said Wednesday.

"There's a time to get off that stage, and it's about that time," said Trodden, 64. He has endorsed his second-in-command, Theo Stamos, to succeed him.

Trodden said that although Arlington is a safe community, his job has been to see the worst of it for many years - the killings, rapes and kidnappings. "It will be good to be able to [distance myself] from the dark side a bit," said Trodden, who grew up in Arlington. "It'll be nice to see the other side."

Trodden said that despite the tens of thousands of cases his office has handled, including two triple homicides, his tenure will probably be remembered for the tabloid sensation of Albert, the famed TV personality he prosecuted in 1997 for, among other things, biting a woman in a Pentagon City hotel room.

Albert ended the media circus in the middle of his forcible-sodomy trial by pleading guilty to misdemeanor assault and battery charges. He avoided jail time despite Trodden's argument to the judge that Albert was not remorseful enough. "Personal violence is not acceptable," Trodden said then.

"That was interesting in terms of the media," Trodden said. "We had a murder case going on at the same time and that got no attention."

Another case Trodden said will stay with him is that of a former U.S. Marine who was convicted in October of abducting and raping a University of Maryland graduate student whom he left for dead. Jorge Torrez, 21, also attacked the woman's friend and tried to kidnap another woman at gunpoint.

Trodden also spoke of Zachary Cooper, who was convicted of killing his wife, his 5-year-old daughter and his girlfriend in 2002. He allegedly wanted to pursue a romantic relationship with a third woman. "His defense was his wife did it," Trodden said.

Trodden said the biggest impact he has made on the office has been to hire top-notch people to make it run smoothly and effectively, which is why he's endorsing Stamos.

"It's people like Theo who make you look good," he said. "She's been in the trenches for almost 25 years. She's tough but fair."

Stamos is being challenged for the Democratic nomination by Arlington criminal defense lawyer David Deane.

Stamos joined the office in 1987, was promoted to deputy commonwealth's attorney in 1998 and then to chief deputy in 2002. As chief deputy, Stamos supervises a team of prosecutors who handle felonies and misdemeanors in adult and juvenile court.

Stamos, 53, said that she likes the way the office is run but that if she becomes top prosecutor, she will do more community outreach and advocating for victims rights. "I've learned how the office runs with fairness, integrity and professionalism," Stamos said. "And that's what I'll continue to do."

Deane, 38, a partner with Albo & Oblon law firm, said he has a range of experience handling cases in courts across Virginia. He was a prosecutor in Fairfax County from 1998 to 2000.

He said if he wins, he would work more closely with the Hispanic community and try to eliminate hurdles that prevent some victims and witnesses from coming forward.

"This is something I've always wanted to do," Deane said of the top prosecutor's job. "My family history is steeped in law enforcement in Virginia."

His grandfather was sheriff of Greene County, his father was an FBI agent for 30 years and his uncle is Prince William County Police Chief Charlie T. Deane.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company