Slaying Victim Made Threats, Court Told
The three suspects in the July 3 shooting death of Terry Leon Tyler at a Warrenton motel tracked Tyler from Washington that day because of death threats he made against them earlier in the day, defense attorneys said during a preliminary hearing last week.
Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney J. Gregory Ashwell countered that the three were not merely reacting to Tyler's threats or--when they found him--to their belief that he had a gun. "They came armed to the teeth," Ashwell said. "If they were in fear, they could have gotten back into the car."
Fauquier County District Court Judge Charles B. Foley found probable cause for first-degree murder and firearms charges against Frederick E. Lucas, 25, James E. Reid, 19, and Katrina G. Brookins, 29, all of Washington. The case will go to the grand jury that convenes Sept. 27.
The shooting occurred at the Comfort Inn on Route 29 in Warrenton, where Tyler was staying. Lucas, Reid and Brookins were arrested later that day after a high-speed chase on Interstate 66.
Detective John Halley, of the Fauquier County Sheriff's Department, testified that Lucas and Reid had told him that Tyler was involved in the theft of a videocassette recorder from Brookins's home and that when Brookins confronted him, Tyler began making death threats against Brookins and her family, as well as against Reid and Lucas.
Sgt. Gary Healy, also of the Sheriff's Department, testified that Brookins, who is Reid's cousin and was then Lucas's girlfriend, feared Tyler and knew of his criminal history. In 1994, Tyler was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the stabbing death of his brother, who died after the two quarreled at the brother's home in Haymarket in 1993.
According to investigators' testimony, Brookins, accompanied by Reid, Lucas and another woman who was not charged, drove to Warrenton at 6 a.m., after Tyler allegedly made a threatening call to Brookins's mother at 4:30 a.m. from the Comfort Inn. Brookins learned Tyler's whereabouts from the caller identification feature on her mother's phone, investigators said.
Once at the motel, the group lay in wait for Tyler to emerge from his room, investigators said. Mark Williams, Lucas's court-appointed attorney, said that Lucas and Reid fired at Tyler after he ran out of his room and made a motion for his gym bag, which the two believed contained a gun.
"He ran down from the Comfort Inn, made a motion for his bag, and then they started shooting," Williams said. Investigators testified that Tyler's gym bag contained no weapons.
Man Found Dead Hours After Car Crash
Shaun A. Edmonds, 20, of Midland, died early Saturday morning after the car in which he was a passenger ran off Green Road and crashed into a tree. Authorities said the driver, a Bealeton man whose identity was not released, fled the scene and sought help for himself but not for his injured passenger.
Fauquier County Sheriff's Capt. Fred Pfeiff said that the driver went to a nearby house for help and was taken to Fauquier Hospital but that he "made no mention of where the accident was or the fact that Edmonds was in the car."
Pfeiff said sheriff's deputies did not learn of the accident, which occurred shortly after midnight in the 9500 block of Green Road, until seven hours later. He said Edmonds was pronounced dead at the scene.
An investigation into the accident was continuing.
Marijuana Plants Seized Near The Plains
Marijuana plants with an estimated street value of almost $1 million were seized last month in a wooded area near The Plains by Fauquier County sheriff's detectives working with a spotter helicopter from the Virginia State Police.
Prolonged dry weather aided in the Aug. 17 discovery of the 330 plants in the 5000 block of O'Bannon Road in northern Fauquier County, Sheriff's Capt. Fred Pfeiff said, because their well-watered, dark green leaves contrasted with the desiccated foliage surrounding them. "It sticks out and is not easily camouflaged," Pfeiff said.
He said the owner of the property apparently did not know of the existence of the plants. No arrests had been made.
"It just goes to show you that the supply and demand has never diminished on these types of drugs," Fauquier Sheriff Joe Higgs said. "And it's very much in your neighborhoods."