An Arlington Circuit Court judge has dismissed a felonious assault indictment against a Fairfax Cointy deputy sheriff because of a procedural slip-up which the deputy was permitted to testify before a county grand jury without being informed of his right to remain silent.
Circuit Court Judge William L. Winston said last week the deputy sheriff, Robert L. Hendricks, 23, of 1607 s. 26th St., Arlington, was not formally advised he was waiving his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination when he testified before the grand jury.
Under Virginia law, all such notifications must be done in fromal proceedings with a judge present. As a general rule, neither a judge nor a defendent's lawyer is present whena grand jury meets.
The gran jury, after investigating charges filed by Ronald Derrick, 18, of 2004 S. Quebec St., Arlington, that Hendricks allegedly hit Derrick in the face with a billy club in Fort Scott Park in Arlington last Aug. 25, indicted Hendricks on Dec. 20.
Assistant Arlington Commonwealth's Attorhey James F. Almand said Hendricks "inadvertently" appeared before the grand jury because Almand was "under the mistaken impression" that when Hendricks came to the courthouse the day the grand jury met that it was for the purpose of testifying.
"It never occurred to me that the judge should take the bench and advise the defendent that he didn't have to testify," Almand said.
Hendricks' lawyer, Leroy E. Batchelor Jr., said his client was at the courthouse Dec. 20 because he had brought two witnesses there to testify on his behalf before the grand jury.
Batchelor said he was not present when the grand jury called Hendricks to testify but as soon as he discovered that Hendricks had appeared before the grand jury, without being advised by a judge of his rights, he filed a motion to quash the indictment against Handricks.*