:A sweeping search by local law enforcement officials to find a missing Virginia Military Institute cadet who was thought to be suicidal and in the possession of a handgun ended in tragedy Tuesday evening at Goshen Pass.
A Rockbridge County Sheriff’s Department deputy located Eric B. Alter, 22, of Centreville at Goshen Pass. : According to a sheriff’s department spokesman, the deputy was only able to speak briefly to Alter before Alter pulled out the gun and shot himself. : The sheriff’s office had been notified shortly before the tragedy by VMI police about the missing cadet’s condition and the location where he was thought to be heading. : : Alter had cell phone contact at some point earlier in the afternoon with a member of the lacrosse team for which he was the director of operations.
The VMI corps of cadets was informed of Alter’s death early Tuesday evening, and a vigil was held that night at 11. Counseling and pastoral care is available to cadets, faculty and staff. “Our thoughts go out to his family. He was an outstanding cadet,” said Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III, superintendent, in a statement. :
Alter was an English major and was commander of the corps’ 2nd Battalion. He was set to graduate in May and to commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. :
He is survived by his parents, Bruce and Beth Alter of Centreville, and his sister, Betsy. Funeral arrangements are pending.
OHIO COUNTY, WVa. (WJLA) - An Ohio County judge Wednesday ordered that Charles Severance be extradited to Virginia to face weapons charges in Loudoun County.
Ohio County prosecutor Scott Smith argued that the state of Virginia had presented a solid case for Severance's extradition, and that the defense "had not met its burden with clear and convincing evidence" to fight it. He argued that Severance committed a crime in Virginia and then fled the state, meaning he should be extradited to face the resulting charges.
In court on Wednesday, Severance's public defender, Shayne Welling, argued that the charges against Severance are "a sham," and are merely contextual due to the fact that police in Alexandria, Va. want to question him about three murders dating back to 2003 that police recently discovered are related. The most recent killing was that of beloved music teacher Ruthanne Lodato.
The defense called a single witness to the stand on Wednesday - Anand Patel, manager of the Knights Inn in Wheeling where Severance stayed in the day leading up to his March 13 arrest.
Patel testified that a law enforcement officer from Alexandria came to the hotel on March 13, asking about Severance's whereabouts. Later that day, Wheeling police officers also came to inquire about him.
Welling argued that Severance is not a fugitive and was not in West Virginia fleeing from any charges in Loudoun County, as the charges were not filed until after he left the state.
Welling further argued that if Severance is extradited based purely on the evidence the prosecution has presented thus far, that it would be "a parody of our rule of law."
Welling requested that Severance not be extradited, and that he be granted asylum in Ohio County.
Judge James Mazzone recessed for only a short while before returning with his decision - that the defense had failed to demonstrate clear evidence against extradition.
Mazzone ordered that Severance be extradited to Virginia to face the charges in Loudoun County.
Severance immediately conferred with his defense attorney over whether to appeal the decision.
Stay with ABC7 News for the latest updates on this developing story.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court on Wednesday said a federal law limits how much money victims of child pornography can recover from people who viewed their images online, throwing out a nearly $3.4 million judgment in favor of a woman whose childhood rape has been widely seen on the Internet. Two dissenting justices called on Congress to change the law to benefit victims.
The justices said in a 5-4 ruling that courts can order people convicted of child pornography to pay restitution to their victims, but only to the extent that there is a strong tie between the victim's losses and the offenders' actions. In this case, Doyle Randall Paroline was held liable by a federal appeals court for the entire amount of the woman's losses, though his computer contained just two images of her, among more than 150 illicit photographs.
The case involved a woman known in court papers by the pseudonym "Amy." Her losses have been pegged at nearly $3.4 million, based on the ongoing Internet trade and viewing of images of her being raped by her uncle when she was 8 and 9 years old.
She said was "surprised and confused" by the decision, according to a statement her lawyer posted online.
Justice Anthony Kennedy said for the court that the appellate judges went too far when they said that Paroline was responsible for all of the woman's losses, without determining how much harm he caused her. Kennedy said federal judges have to figure out the right amount, but he provided only "rough guideposts for determining an amount that fits the offense."
The ruling steered a middle ground between the woman's call for full restitution and Paroline's claim that there was no relationship between his conduct and the woman's losses, so that there should be no award of restitution. The case turned on the interpretation of the federal law granting restitution to victims of sex crimes, including child pornography.
Justices Samuel Alito, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan joined Kennedy's opinion.
Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, said the restitution law as written should mean that Amy gets nothing. In a separate dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said she would have upheld the full award.
Both Roberts and Sotomayor said Congress can rewrite the law to make it clearer. The U.S. Sentencing Commission has recommended that lawmakers eliminate confusion among federal judges about the right way to calculate restitution. "The statute as written allows no recovery; we ought to say so, and give Congress a chance to fix it," Roberts said.
Advocates for child pornography victims argued that holding defendants liable for the entire amount of losses better reflects the ongoing harm that victims suffer each time someone views the images online. The threat of a large financial judgment, coupled with a prison term, also might deter some people from looking at the images in the first place, the advocates said.
Had the woman prevailed at the Supreme Court, courts would not have had to determine exactly how much harm any one defendant caused her. Instead, all defendants would have been liable for the entire outstanding amount, raising the possibility that a few well-heeled people among those convicted might contribute most, if not all, of the remaining restitution.
Kennedy said such an approach would undermine a purpose of restitution to make defendants aware that their crimes have victims because many offenders would have to pay nothing.
Still, he said, "the victim should someday collect restitution for all her child pornography losses, but it makes sense to spread payment among a larger number of offenders in amounts more closely in proportion to their respective causal roles and their own circumstances."
Paul Cassell, who argued the woman's case at the Supreme Court, posted her statement on the Volokh Conspiracy website. "I really don't understand where this leaves me and other victims who now have to live with trying to get restitution probably for the rest of our lives. The Supreme Court said we should keep going back to the district courts over and over again but that's what I have been doing for almost six years now," she said.
She has so far received more than $1.75 million from people convicted of possessing pornographic images of her, the victim's lawyers told the court. Of that total, $1.2 million came from one man, Arthur Staples, a Virginia sheriff's deputy who had more than $2 million in retirement savings.
The money is intended to cover the cost of her psychological care, lost income and attorneys' fees.
The case is Paroline v. Amy Unknown and U.S., 12-8561.
FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (WJLA) - Residents of Fairfax County in Virginia should get ready to pony up more money for annual taxes.
The County Board of Supervisors marked up its previously advertised FY2015 budget Tuesday, approving new taxes that are likely to affect everyone, but most especially homeowners.
One of the biggest increases was in the real estate tax. The supervisors approved what they called a "modest" half-cent increase, bringing it from $1.085 per $100 of assessed value to $1.090.
The increase is expected to generate nearly $11 million in revenue for the county - all of which the supervisors promised will be going to Fairfax County Public Schools.
"The increase represents a $25 annual increase in the average residential taxpayer’s bill. This would be on top of a $330 average increase resulting from rising assessment values," Sharon Bulova, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said in a statement.
The increase is likely to be music to the ears of many in the school district such as new Superintendent Karen Garza, who has been asking for tens of millions more in aid from the county than the supervisors previously offered, as it faces a huge deficit for next year's budget.
"This additional tax revenue [from real estate] - $10.9 million - combined with $6 million in savings achieved on the general County side of the budget, is used to increase the school transfer by $17 million, from 2 percent in the advertised budget to 3 percent," Bulova said. "With this added percent the total increase in the school transfer will be $51 million."
Bulova added, the county is also expecting additional funding of approximately $30 million from the commonwealth, which she said will help to fund "additional school requirements."
Other budget adjustments will be used to increase compensation for county employees, including public safety workers. Bulova said an additional 1 percent will be added on to the previously advertised 1.29-percent increase for employees, and step increases will continue for public safety workers who are eligible.
Bulova said the decision to increase taxes was not an easy one, and cited recent economic difficulties affecting the entire nation.
“This was a very challenging budget,” Chairman Bulova said. “Our nation, region, and county continue to struggle during these sluggish post-recession years."
"The good news this year is that real estate values are beginning to rebound," she continued. "The bad news is that only residential values are rising; business taxes are flat and commercial assessments are a decrease from Fiscal Year 2014.”
Additional pressures cited by Bulova include an increase in the local student population, increased needs for human services, and "county employees who have endured near-stagnant compensation for five years."
According to WTOP, Bulova has also asked for the creation of a tax force to explore whether or not to add a meals tax in Fairfax County, which would be levied on all prepared meals. A 4-percent increase would generate $88 million, Bulova told WTOP.
A report from the tax force is expected by June. The meals tax would have to be approved by voters. A similar tax was voted down in the county in previous years.
The amended budget is scheduled to be officially adopted on April 29.
For more information, visit the county's website.
The body of a Virginia Military Institute cadet was found in the vicinity of Goshen Pass Tuesday evening.
Rockbridge County sheriff's deputies found the body of Eric B. Alter, 22, of Centreville. Local law enforcement officials had been searching for Alter when the discovery was made.
The VMI Corps of Cadets was informed of Alter’s death early Tuesday evening. Counseling and pastoral care is available to cadets, faculty, and staff. “Our thoughts go out to his family. He was an outstanding cadet,” said Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III, superintendent.
Alter was an English major, was director of operations for the lacrosse team, and was commander of the Corps’ 2nd Battalion. He was set to graduate in May and to commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps.
He is survived by his parents, Bruce and Beth Alter of Centreville, and his sister, Betsy. Funeral arrangements are pending.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Newly released tax records show former Gov. Bob McDonnell's legal defense fund raised nearly $150,000 during the first quarter of this year, a sizeable haul that's still far short of the $1 million-plus the fund's founder has said is needed.
Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, gave $10,000. Fred Malek, a veteran Republican fundraiser also gave $10,000.
Coal baron Richard Baxter Gilliam gave $50,000, the single biggest donation.
Most of the more than 40 reported donors gave in smaller amounts. A handful of donors were from out of state.
":It's significant that a lot of Virginians and a lot of Americans are standing with Bob McDonnell during this difficult time,": said Jason Miyares, a spokesman for the legal defense fund.
The former Republican governor and his wife Maureen are charged in a 14-count indictment with accepting more than $165,000 from Jonnie Williams, the former CEO of dietary supplements maker Star Scientific Inc., in exchange for helping promote his products. Their trial is set to begin in July.
The McDonnells have returned gifts to Williams and apologized for their actions, but they have denied breaking any laws. Their supporters have characterized the federal prosecution as politically motivated.
McDonnell was once a rising star in the Republican Party and had been considered a possible Romney running mate.
But his last year in office was overshadowed by the federal investigation into his relationship with Williams.
The legal defense fund had raised slightly more than $11,000 during the last quarter of 2013, before the McDonnells were indicted in January.
Defense fund founder Stanley Baldwin, a Virginia Beach attorney, sent out a fundraising appeal last week indicating that the McDonnells' defense cost will top $1 million.
":The trial alone will cost approximately $1 million for legal fees, housing, experts, transcripts etc.,": Baldwin wrote.
Lawyers for the McDonnells have been busy sparring with federal prosecutors in advance of the July trial date. In multiple court filings, the two sides have sharply differed on whether McDonnell's actions amounted to bribery or the routine extension of political courtesies and access.
The fund spent $140,000 this quarter on the various legal firms representing the McDonnells, with $100,000 going to the law firm Jones Day.
ABC7 WEATHER: Mostly sunny, windy with highs in the mid 60s. http://wj.la/72e8x6
&lsquo:GOOD MORNING WASHINGTON&rsquo:: Among the reports &ndash: Chris Brown may begin today: Fairfax County schools and the bid for later start times: much more, beginning at 4:30 a.m. M-F.
FOCUS, PEOPLE: So says The Danny, per the Associated Press, &ldquo:Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder said Tuesday it's time for people to ":focus on reality": concerning Native American matters instead of criticizing the team's nickname. ":We understand the issues out there, and we're not an issue,": Snyder said. ":The real issues are real-life issues, real-life needs, and I think it's time that people focus on reality.":
Challenged by those who consider the name ":Redskins": offensive, Snyder and his staff recently traveled to Native American reservations and last month established a foundation to assist American Indian tribes. He had declined requests to answer questions about the foundation until Tuesday.
":Snyder has insisted he will not change the Redskins' name, calling it a ":badge of honor.": He did not directly answer when asked to respond to those who say the foundation is a way of throwing money at the problem to placate critics. . . Snyder rarely takes questions from reporters, and his brief remarks came Tuesday after a ceremony at a local high school. The Redskins are donating one-tenth of the $1 million cost to refurbish the school's sports field.&rdquo: http://apne.ws/1jHACqQ
GOV. TOURIST: And pubs, per the Baltimore Sun, &ldquo:Gov. Martin O'Malley left Tuesday for a five-day trip to Europe that includes a ":congressional pilgrimage": to northern Ireland and a conference in Amsterdam. The governor, whose Irish heritage inspired his Celtic rock band and his taste in poetry, will first visit Dublin along with civil rights leader U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia as part of a 50-person delegation to learn about the island's historic divide and reconciliation efforts, organizers said.
&ldquo:O'Malley then plans to attend a conference on progressive governance in Amsterdam on Thursday and Friday before returning to Ireland, his office spokeswoman said. The governor also traveled to Dublin last June and gave a speech at Iveagh House, headquarters of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's visit to Ireland.&rdquo: http://bsun.md/1jHWJgR
GIFTGATE: Did anyone say free money?, per the Virginian-Pilot, &ldquo:Donors such as former presidential candidate Mitt Romney produced a recent spike in contributions to a charity set up to raise money for former governor Bob McDonnell's legal defense. The $149,242 in donations to the Virginia Beach-based Restoration Fund from January to March, according to Virginia Public Access Project data, dwarfs the $11,554 it raised over the prior six months.
&ldquo:Much of the newer giving from Romney and other deep-pocketed contributors came after McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were charged in a 14-count federal indictment in January alleging they misused their public positions for personal benefit. . .Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee supported by McDonnell, gave $10,000 to the fund in March.&rdquo: http://bit.ly/1rkVLdi
ZOO SHOOTING: Details, per the Washington Post, &ldquo:Shortly past 5 p.m. Monday, the main entrance to the National Zoo teemed with people enjoying one of the attraction&rsquo:s busiest days of the year. Tourists and mothers pushing baby carriages jostled for position as other visitors, enjoying the annual family day at the zoo, poured onto Connecticut Avenue.
&ldquo:Just then, a large crowd of men and women arrived at the zoo&rsquo:s entrance. That came as authorities inside were in the process of expelling about three dozen disruptive youngsters from near the elephant exhibit. All of a sudden, hundreds of people milled about at the zoo&rsquo:s entrance. Then, at 5:17, someone pulled a gun and fired several shots. Once again &mdash: just like in 2000, when seven people were shot, and again in 2011, when a young boy was stabbed &mdash: an Easter Monday at the zoo became a day of terror and chaos for out-of-towners and native Washingtonians alike.&rdquo: http://wapo.st/1jzhFoO
SHUTDOWN SHOWDOWN: Of another try, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, &ldquo:It was supposed to be the end of the 2014 legislative season. But lawmakers return to Richmond Wednesday to consider Governor Terry McAuliffe's vetoes and amendments with the most important piece of legislation -- the budget -- still unresolved, and unlikely to shift from its partisan standoff.
&ldquo:McAuliffe vetoed only five pieces of legislation -- including two public prayer bills and one regarding storing guns in secured containers in cars. With the Senate controlled by Democrats and the House dominated by Republicans, lawmakers at odds with the governor are unlikely to muster the two-thirds vote in both chambers necessary to overturn his vetoes.&rdquo: http://bit.ly/1rhqpG7
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION: SCOTUS not a fan, per the New York Times, &ldquo:In a fractured decision that revealed deep divisions over what role the judiciary should play in protecting racial and ethnic minorities, the Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a Michigan constitutional amendment that bans affirmative action in admissions to the state&rsquo:s public universities.
&ldquo:The 6-to-2 ruling effectively endorsed similar measures in seven other states. It may also encourage more states to enact measures banning the use of race in admissions or to consider race-neutral alternatives to ensure diversity.&rdquo: http://nyti.ms/1mv48CN
CONFLICTED ABOUT FERRY: Collective grief, shame, per the Los Angeles Times, &ldquo:For South Korea, a country that pulled itself out of abject poverty to become the world's 15th-largest economy, the most stinging accusation about last week's ferry sinking is that it looks like a Third-World disaster.
&ldquo:While the captain escaped and the crew dithered and bickered with emergency officials, hundreds of passengers, most of them high school students, obediently remained in their cabins as the ferry rolled and slipped beneath the surface of the cold, gray sea.&rdquo: http://lat.ms/QE9BMc
IN THIS CORNER. . .: Check your listings, per The Hill, &ldquo:A long-running feud between Netflix and Comcast is on the verge of becoming all-out war. Netflix threw down the gauntlet on Monday by coming out against Comcast&rsquo:s proposed $45 billion agreement to merge with Time Warner Cable.
&ldquo:The deal, for which Comcast has hired an army of lobbyists to sell and defend, had attracted little opposition from other major companies or from lawmakers on Capitol Hill. But in a letter to shareholders, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells warned the deal would give the resulting company too much market power and leverage over Internet companies.&rdquo: http://bit.ly/1jzkpCJ
POLITICO PLAY: &ldquo:When Bob Dole ran for president in 1996 at the age of 73, Democrats derided him as a relic and a man out of place in the electronic age. Late-night comics mocked him, he tumbled off a stage and President Bill Clinton charged in his convention speech that Dole wanted to &ldquo:build a bridge to the past.&rdquo:
&ldquo:Nearly two decades later, Dole is having the last laugh &mdash: and letting present-day Republicans know they might learn a thing or two from the deal-making glory days of the iconic Kansas war hero.&rdquo: http://politi.co/1riYtlh
D.C. BUDGET: And the lawsuit, per City Paper, &ldquo:The D.C. Council's fight with Mayor Vince Gray over budget autonomy could be resolved only two weeks before the Council has to make its first vote on the mayor's budget, according to a schedule laid out in a federal court hearing over the lawsuit filed by the Council and Chairman Phil Mendelson against Gray and Chief Financial Officer Jeff DeWitt.&rdquo: http://bit.ly/PrXHUS
MEDS AND SMOKES: Just say no, per Gazette.Net, &ldquo:Members of the Montgomery County Council are asking stores with pharmacies in them to stop selling cigarettes in their Montgomery locations, claiming the practice is contradictory.&rdquo: http://bit.ly/1mwKdmM
TUTORING TERPS: Or something like that, per the Frederick News-Post, &ldquo:The University of Maryland hopes to have a profound, long-lasting impact on the way the city of Frederick does business, said Gerrit Knaap, executive director of the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education at the university.
&ldquo:The university has selected the city as its partner to pilot the Action Learning Program, to start this fall. Entire courses will be created based on the city&rsquo:s needs, Knaap said, and students will be asked to dig deep into big issues and projects the city thinks are worthwhile and come up with new ideas for how city staff can take them on.&rdquo: http://bit.ly/1lEiCmT
WHAT TO DO?: Of a wide-open space, per ARLnow, &ldquo:Arlington County surveyed more than 250 residents, workers and visitors to Courthouse Square to assess public opinion of the area&rsquo:s future. The survey was conducted as part of the county&rsquo:s &ldquo:Envision Courthouse Square&rdquo: initiative, which is trying to get the public involved in the process of planning the future development of the 9-acre area surrounding the county&rsquo:s large surface parking lot.
&ldquo:. . . More than 13 percent of respondents listed &ldquo:market events&rdquo: as their preferred future use of open space in Courthouse Square, followed by 12.2 percent in favor of outdoor movies and evening events. Social gathering and social seating received 11.7 and 9.8 percent of the vote, respectively.&rdquo: http://bit.ly/1hh4bku
SPORTS, BRIEFLY: Wizards beat Chicago 101-99: Nationals lose 7-2 against L.A. Angels.
TRENDING ON ABC7 FACEBOOK: &ldquo:Fairfax County Police are on the hunt for a serial groper. The male suspect is reported to be responsible for a total of seven forcible fondling incidents that occurred in three shopping areas &ndash: Skyline, Bailey&rsquo:s Crossroads, and Seven Corners. The incidents took place between March 22 and April 19 in the afternoon or early evening between 2 p.m. and 9 p.m.&rdquo: http://wj.la/1flMvAb
NEWSTALK: Among today&rsquo:s guests (10 a.m., NewsChannel 8) is Bliss Requa-Trautz of the Massachusetts group &ldquo:Just Communities,&rdquo: will be asked about the anti-deportation demonstrations taking place at the White House.
These are the latest stories added to the database. With so many information sources pulled into one place, these stories move off the page in a hurry. Clicking on one of these will take you to that feed page on this site.