Updated at 3 p.m. The Commonwealth Attorney’s Office is hoping to limit access to the internet for a man acquitted for reason of insanity for a brutal stabbing death in Old Town.
Pankaj Bhasin, now 38, was conditionally released from the Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services in May, nearly four years after killing 65-year-old Brad Jackson. Bhasin said that he thought Jackson — a complete stranger — was a werewolf, and used a box cutter to stab him 53 times. Bhasin was later diagnosed as bipolar by five doctors and was found not guilty by reason of insanity in July 2019. He was conditionally released in on May 27, 2022.
After his release, Bhasin opened a Facebook page where he listed that he was in India at the time of the murder, according to court records. He also created dating application profiles and wrote that he’d recently returned from traveling for two years.
“I’m an easy going adventurer who believes in a universal connection with all and love to explore n try new things,” Bhasin wrote on a dating app, according to the motion to amend the terms of his conditional release. “Also, recently getting back from two years of travel…”
Bhasin also wrote that he is interested in “travel, kayaking, dancing, photography, camping, reading, concert n all things fun,” and that he has an ENFP-A personality — someone who is extraverted, intuitive, feeling, and perceiving.
On Thursday (September 15), the Commonwealth’s Attorney will argue to amend Bhasin’s conditional release by either preventing him from using social media and online dating applications or installing software to allow the Community Services Board to monitor his activity.
“Given the violence involved in this case, our office is extremely concerned about the acquittee being in the community,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter told ALXnow. “We are trying to do everything wr can to ensure he is not in a position to commit further acts of violence.”
“Of particular concern, the acquittee appears to be actively engaged in deception regarding his recent history,” the Commonwealth said in its motion. “For example. he states that he has been ‘recently getting back from two years of travel and he appears to have created artificial check-ins to overseas locations, giving the impression that he was there during a period of time he was incarcerated and standing trial for murder.”
The motion continued, “In this case, because the acquittee may be meeting potential romantic partners while not only concealing, but actively lying about his recent history, those individuals may be put at risk during a period of time when the acquittee is first transitioning to the community. In light of the acquittee’s online conduct, public safety calls for modification of the terms of his release.”
Bhasin’s attorney, Peter Greenspun, said that Bhasin is “doing extremely well,” but did not discuss the Commonwealth’s motion to amend the conditions of his release.
“Mr. Bhasin has expressed his remorse for Mr. Jackson and those who knew him in every setting possible, including in his treatment,” Greenspun said in an email. “While those expressions may, understandably, not be enough for those who are suffering, it is sincere and constant, and has been an important part of his recovery.”
A review hearing is also scheduled for December to assess Bhasin’s release.
Maryland resident Fredy Ortiz Dominguez, 46, pleaded guilty to a felony count of involuntary manslaughter for the death of a pedestrian in Arlandria last November.
Dominquez was indicted in April in connection with the death of Roy Saravia Alvarez, a 46-year-old Alexandria resident killed after exiting a bus at the corner of Mount Vernon Avenue and West Glebe Road. Dominguez pleaded guilty in the Alexandria Circuit Court on July 28, according to a press release from the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney.
According to the release:
The investigation established that on the evening of November 13, 2021, Roy Saravia Alvarez exited a bus at the intersection of Mount Vernon Avenue and West Glebe Road in the City of Alexandria. He crossed West Glebe Road in the crosswalk. He completed crossing Glebe and began walking westbound on the sidewalk.
The defendant, Mr. Ortiz Dominguez, was the second car in line waiting to turn left from northbound Mount Vernon Avenue onto West Glebe Road. The car in front of the defendant completed the turn without incident, but the defendant took a wide turn and drove up onto the sidewalk, striking Mr. Saravia Alvarez from behind and pinning him underneath the vehicle.
For six minutes, the defendant pressed the gas pedal and rocked his work truck back and forth while the victim remained pinned underneath the vehicle. Onlookers attempted to get the defendant to stop, but he persisted in pressing the gas pedal until police arrived. Mr. Saravia Alvarez was freed from underneath the vehicle by the fire department within 10 minutes of arrival, but he had succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead on scene.
The release said that Dominguez was not under the effects of alcohol or drugs at the time of the crash and Alvarez and Dominguez did not know each other before the crash.
“The cause for the collision remains undetermined,” the release said. “The sentencing hearing in the case will be held on September 15, 2022. The maximum penalty for Involuntary Manslaughter is ten years in the penitentiary. The defendant is incarcerated in the Alexandria Adult Detention Center awaiting sentencing.”
A 44-year-old Fairfax County man was arrested on June 22 and faces multiple charges for a February 22 crash on Duke Street that resulted in the death of a driver and injuries to other drivers.
Carlos Kami Adar McKethan was arrested subsequent to a direct Grand Jury indictment charging him with aggravated vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence of Phencyclidine (PCP), according to the office of Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter.
“It is alleged the defendant was the driver of a vehicle which struck another vehicle,” Porter’s office said in a release. “As a result of the collision, the driver of the struck vehicle was killed.”
McKethan is being held without bail in the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center awaiting trial. No trial date has been set.
Five vehicles were involved in the crash, which occurred at around at around 11:50 p.m. in the 3200 block of Duke Street. Three people were trapped in two different vehicles after the crash.
“The crash resulted in one fatality, one critical injury, one serious injury, and two minor injuries,” Alexandria Police said in a release. “Preliminary investigation suggests speed may have been a contributing factor in this incident.”
Vehicular manslaughter is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in jail, and driving under the influence of PCP is punishable by up to a year in jail.
News Release:: APD Investigates a Multi-Vehicle Crash
The Alexandria Police Department is investigating a multi-vehicle crash that occurred late Tuesday evening.
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) February 23, 2022
Map via Google Maps
On Monday, a grand jury indicted 46-year-old Hyattsville resident Fredy Ortiz Dominguez on charges related to the death of Roy Saravia Alvarez last November.
Dominguez allegedly struck and killed Alvarez at the intersection of West Glebe Road and Mount Vernon Avenue at around 8:10 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021.
“The decedent, Roy Saravia Alvarez, was walking on a sidewalk at that location when he was struck by a vehicle operated by the defendant,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter said in a release. “Mr. Saravia Alvarez subsequently succumbed to injuries sustained during the crash.”
Alvarez was killed just days before his 47th birthday as he was walking home from a store.
“Involuntary Manslaughter is a felony offense which carries a potential maximum penalty of 10 years of incarceration in prison,” Porter said. “Reckless Driving is a misdemeanor offense which carries a potential maximum penalty of 12 months in jail and/or a fine of not more than $2,500. No trial date has been set in the matter.”
A 33-year-old Alexandria resident has been indicted on a first-degree murder charge, a more serious charge than he was previously facing, in connection to a stabbing at BJ’s Wholesale Club in the Landmark area.
The indictment, which a Grand Jury returned March 14, charges Rakibul Islam Fakir on the one felony count of first-degree murder, which is punishable by life in prison, according to a news release from the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney.
On Sept. 25, Alexandria Police responded to the store next to Van Dorn Plaza around 7:45 p.m. and discovered Maryland resident Abiy Zemene, 29, suffering from stab wounds. Zemene died from the injuries.
Police said at the time that Zemene and Fakir knew each other and Fakir remained at the scene until police arrived. He was then arrested without incident and charged with second-degree murder.
He’s being held at William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center without bail as he awaits trial. A trial date has not been set.
The George Washington Birthday Parade returned to Alexandria on Monday after a two year hiatus. The streets of Old Town were lined with celebration for Washington’s 290th birthday.
Alexandria’s health care workers and first responders marched as parade grand marshals. The parade, which started at Gibbon and Fairfax Streets and snaked around City Hall, was attended by thousands. The event is the largest of its kind in the world honoring the founding father and first president.
Alexandria resident Steven Orellana was found guilty yesterday (Tuesday) for rape of a coworker in 2019.
The 32-year-old Orellana was dating the victim and they were coworkers, according to a press release from the Commonwealth Attorney’s office.
“The evidence established that, in 2019, the defendant forced a coworker whom he had been dating to engage in a sexual act against her will, inside of his Alexandria apartment,” according to a release. “The defendant is currently being held without bail in the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center, pending a sentencing hearing scheduled for March 17, 2022.”
Orellana was arrested for the offense in 2019, and the trial was delayed by the pandemic. He was initially booked on August 15, 2019, and then released on $10,000 bond on August 27, 2019.
“The trial of the matter was significantly delayed by the public health emergency caused by the coronavirus,” the release said.
Orellana faces a minimum sentence of five years and a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Bryan Porter says he must be doing something right.
Porter, the Commonwealth’s Attorney in Alexandria, just won an uncontested reelection as a Democrat for his third term.
“I must be doing something right,” Porter said of the election. “Hopefully it shows that I’ve got the right blend of forward-thinking policies, and that I help keep the community safe.”
A lifelong Alexandrian, Porter took office in 2014, and spent his first two years in office consumed with prosecuting Alexandria serial killer Charles Severance. Porter later wrote a book about the experience.
“When I first got elected, an elected politician who will remain nameless told me, ‘Hey, you just got just got elected. Don’t screw this up,'” Porter told ALXnow. “That was his mantra. I like to think that eight years in I haven’t screwed it up, and my goal is to leave the office with its reputation intact, so I can hand it off successfully to whoever comes after me.”
Porter continued, “Remember that I’m just one small drop of water in the ocean of Commonwealth’s Attorneys.”
Porter, who has tried 11 murder trials and more than 50 jury trials, would also go on to write a children’s book in 2019. He is credited with founding the Alexandria Mental Health Initiative and the Alexandria Treatment Court as alternatives to jail for people with mental health and substance abuse issues.
“I’m very humble about the whole thing,” Porter said of the election. “And the only reason I’ve done so well is because my predecessor, Randy Sengel, left me very good office without hardly any personnel issues or policy issues. I’ve got really good people working for me, we seem to do a pretty good job of recruiting and getting really good people to work.”
Porter lives with his wife in Old Town. He got a degree in political science from Virginia Commonwealth University, and briefly served as an Alexandria Police Officer. He went to night school at the George Mason University School of Law, and was hired as an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney in 2001.
A 23-year-old man is awaiting extradition to Alexandria for the November 7 murder of a man in the West End.
Ahmed Mohammed Shareef, of Cosa Mesta, California, was indicted by a Grand Jury for killing 23-year-old Yousef Tarek Omar in the 4800 block of West Braddock Road. It was the City’s third and final homicide of 2020.
“It is alleged that the murder was committed in furtherance of the drug trafficking organization,” the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
Shareef is one of 17 people indicted and arrested on charges related to a racketeering conspiracy that involved a “complex drug trafficking organization” allegedly responsible for the sale of approximately $500,000 worth of marijuana.
The investigation, which included multiple law enforcement agencies throughout the region and in Washington State and California, resulted in the seizure of at least 23 firearms, including three assault rifles and high capacity magazines. At least $274,795 in U.S. currency was also taken, in addition to cocaine and other controlled substances, digital scales and electronic money counters, fake identification and driver’s license cards, and multiple vehicles.
“I want to thank the Alexandria Police Department’s Vice/Narcotics Section and the multitude of partner law enforcement agencies for their diligent and professional work on this investigation,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter said. “The collaborative effort between the partner law enforcement agencies shows true professionalism and determination to halt the cycle of violence inherent in complex drug trafficking organizations.”
Shareef faces life in prison for the murder charge, three years for the firearms charge and up to 40 years for the racketeering charge.
No trial dates have been set.
Suit alleging admissions discrimination at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology moves forward — “More than 70 percent of the student body at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology is Asian American; Black and Hispanic students have been woefully underrepresented there for decades. At a hearing Friday in Alexandria, lawyers for the Fairfax County School Board urged a judge to toss out the lawsuit. They argue that the new admissions policies are race-neutral. But the judge ruled that the parents’ group made a compelling claim that the board’s true motivation was to increase Black and Hispanic representation at the expense of Asian Americans.” [WAVY.com]
Alexandria Symphony Orchestra extends contract for Maestro James Ross — “The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra (ASO) announced that Music Director James Ross received a contract extension through the 2023-24 season. Ross has been at the helm of ASO since 2018. He is the fifth music director in ASO’s 78-year history.” [Zebra]
Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office tackling workplace stress with wellness challenge — “May is National Employee Health and Wellness Month. For the first time, my office has fully embraced that designation by implementing our ‘Mindful May Wellness Challenge.’ In addition to providing our employees with advice on mindfulness, we have constructed a month of activities and events designed to focus on employee wellness.” [AlexTimes]
Alexandria Drive-In announces June movies — “Tickets are $40 per car, and food trucks will be on-site each night providing delish, savory, and sweet concessions with online ordering through Goodfynd! Proceeds from the movie series will benefit local Alexandria charity, ATHENA Rapid Response Innovation Lab.” [Alexandria Living]
New sign unveiled in Del Ray for hero Rocky Versace — “Alexandria’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Del Ray bears Versace’s name and now, through the efforts of the Friends of Rocky Versace and the City of Alexandria, that narrative was unveiled May 15 during an Armed Forces Day ceremony at the local landmark.” [Gazette]
Local businesses struggle adapting to new mask guidance — ‘”My fear is that people will say they’re vaccinated when they’re not vaccinated and then just walk around unmasked,’ said Nicole McGrew, owner of the clothing and accessories boutique Threadleaf in Old Town Alexandria.” [NPR]
This Friday is the deadline to request a ballot by mail — “Last day to request a ballot by mail for the June 8 Democratic Party Primary Election. Applications must be received in the Voter Registration Office by 5pm. Applications may be submitted online (http://elections.virginia.gov) or by mail, fax (703.838.6449) or email ([email protected])” [City of Alexandria]
Today’s weather — “Overcast with rain showers at times. High around 70F. Winds E at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%… Rain showers early with overcast skies late. Low 59F. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%.” [Weather.com]
New job: Surveillance investigator — “DigiStream Investigations, a fast-growing private investigations firm, seeks a full-time Surveillance Investigator to work under general supervision, investigating suspicious worker’s compensation claims from various corporate clients in the state of Virginia. This autonomous position is both journalistic and investigative in nature, and centers around obtaining quality video footage and detailed report rendering on the activities captured by the investigator.” [Indeed]