Helenia Bragg had few options.
After getting arrested last year in her Old Town home for possession with intent to distribute Schedule II drugs, the Alexandria native faced a minimum of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000. Bragg previously spent the greater part of 20 years incarcerated for three possession charges, and had been clean and sober for eight years before falling off the wagon.
“I had a death in my family,” Bragg said. “Instead of using my coping skills, I started getting high so I wouldn’t have to dream or nothin’.”
After her arrest, Bragg, now 66, was offered to have the slate wiped clean and the charges dropped by participating in the Alexandria Treatment Court. She accepted.
“This is a bad time to be an addict, because fentanyl is on everything,” she said. “If you are an addict, I suggest that you get into a program, that you get clean and sober to save your life, because now it really is a matter of life and death.”
The Treatment Court is an alternative to jail for people with serious substance abuse addiction, and most participants have been to jail multiple times. There are currently seven participants in the five-phase program, and there have been eight graduates since it launched in 2019, according to Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney David Lord, the Treatment Court coordinator.
Lord said that the court, which is overseen by Judge Lisa Kemler, is slowly growing and can now accommodate up to 15 participants. Initially, the program set an enrollment cap at five participants.
“I would like to have more active current participants,” Lord said. “I’m very happy to report that all of the people who have graduated the program, none of them have had recidivism or gotten back in the criminal justice system, which is the ultimate aim.”
Each participant has agreed to weekly check-ins at the courthouse with Kemler, regular meetings with a probation officer and therapy sessions. They also have to take weekly drug tests and work with city agencies to address homelessness, unemployment, lack of medical care and educational needs. In the first phase of the program, participants are given a 9 p.m. curfew. The first phase lasts for two months and the entire program takes between 18 to 24 months.
Lord said that it’s expected for participants to stumble on their journey to recovery.
“Just because you’ve slipped up doesn’t mean that you’ve lost all of your progress and your skills that you’ve developed over the last few months,” he said. “We’ve seen several of our participants who have graduated, went through that exact process, and they had major problems, major slip-ups, and were able to get back on track.”
On a recent Thursday, Bragg and a number of other Treatment Court participants met with Kemler at the Alexandria Courthouse. One male participant was called on and approached the bench wearing a sweatshirt that had the words “I am good trouble” printed on it.
“My problem right now is acting on my emotions,” the male participant said. “When I feel something, I just react right away.”
Kemler congratulated the participant and led the courtroom in applause.
“It looks like you’ve had another great week,” Kemler told him reassuringly. “You had another week of negative drug scanning and you have just appeared to meet all the expectations for phase two, and if all things are on track next week you’ll be eligible for phase three.”
Earlier this year, an Alexandria City High School student died of an opioid overdose, and another was hospitalized. In addition to the creation of the Treatment Court, the city has answered a rise in overdoses by approving a three year strategic plan to eliminate opioid misuse. The plan includes widespread distribution of fentanyl test strips and Narcan, a prescription medicine that can reverse an opioid overdose via intranasal mist.
Bragg dried out in a rehabilitation facility in Frederick, Maryland, for two months before starting the program. She said that she’s back on track and hopes to finish the Treatment Court by February.
“I really do feel great,” she said. “Like my old self again. I’m motivated again.”
A Virginia man was sentenced to a year-and-a-half in prison this week for embezzling more than a half million dollars from ABM Industries.
John Babsa, a 34-year-old former manager of the Northern Virginia branch of New York-based ABM Industries, pleaded guilty to one count of felony embezzlement at his July 27 trial. The former manager also paid $583,000 in restitution directly to ABM Industries via his attorney.
Babsa was hired as an account manager by ABM Industries in 2013, and oversaw payroll services for subcontractors, according to court documents. His work included getting reimbursed payroll and bonuses for ABM subcontractors from the company, and from 2015 to 2019, he received payroll and bonuses for five contractors he created and who never existed.
Babsa created shadow bank accounts for the fake employees, using the personal information of family members to fill in the blanks. He then deposited the checks into the accounts.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter said that the crime was not a “fleeting moment of weakness” on Babsa’s part, who treated ABM Industries as “his personal bank.”
“When a valued employee of a corporation abuses his position for his own gain, more than money is lost,” Porter said. “So is the trust of the owners and other employees of the company. It is unusual for a person convicted of financial crimes to be sent to the penitentiary, and the significant sentence handed down by the Court in this case is illustrative of the gravity of this crime.”
An additional 10-and-a-half years of the Babsa’s sentence was suspended, provided that he perform supervised probation for three years, have no contact with ABM Industries and have uniform good behavior for 20 years after he is released from prison.
The case was investigated by the Alexandria Police Department and prosecuted by Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Harsh Voruganti.
Babsa is being held in the William G. Truesdale Alexandria Adult Detention Center and will be transferred to the Virginia Department of Corrections.
A 17-year-old former Alexandria City High School student was found guilty Tuesday for last year’s fatal stabbing of 18-year-old Luis Mejia Hernandez in the parking lot of the Bradlee Shopping Center.
Judge James C. Clark found the teen guilty of second-degree murder and murder by mob and said that the case is a tragedy for all involved. The defendant sat silently as Clark rendered his decision at the conclusion of the two-day bench trial. He faces between five-to-40 years in prison for the second-degree murder charge and five-to-40 years for the murder by mob, or lynching, charge.
“(The defendant) injected himself into that fight,” Clark said while rendering his verdict, and said that the suspect “made the unspeakably poor decision to approach Mr. Mejia Hernandez and interject himself in a fight he was involved with and stabbed him in the chest.”
Clark continued, “There was clearly a mob in the Bradlee parking lot. (The defendant) injected himself in that fight, not in the heat of passion or out of fear of Luis Mejia Hernandez.”
The stabbing occurred during a brawl between two rival gangs of Alexandria City High School teenagers on Tuesday, May 24, 2022 — a week before graduation. The fight was over within one minute, and Mejia Hernandez was fatally stabbed in the heart. An autopsy showed that he also had abrasions to his neck, chin, the back of his hands, abdomen and knees, according to the medical examiner who testified that the cause of death was a 7/8-inch stab wound to the chest.
“I’m very happy,” said Osmin Mejia Romero, the victim’s father, after Clark announced the verdict.
Defense attorney Sebastian Norton argued that his client acted in self-defense, was frightened and not a member of the mob — all claims that Clark refuted when announcing his verdict. Norton showed still images from videos of the incident revealing Mejia Hernandez winding up his right hand to strike the defendant, and said that the stabbing was “tragically an unlucky shot.”
The defendant told police during his interrogation that two rival gangs, which he dubbed “Chiri” and “West,” agreed to fight that day at the Bradlee Shopping Center.
“(The defendant) reasonably feared death or great bodily harm,” Norton said. “What happened on May 24 was a tragedy.”
Commonwealth’s Attorney David Lord said that the defendant callously found the fight he was looking for.
“Fifty random students of a city high school didn’t meet near the McDonald’s in order to eat cheeseburgers and ice cream,” Lord said. “(The defendant) was looking for a fight that day and he found one.”
The defendant is being held in the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center and will be sentenced on September 28. Clark has the option to sentence him entirely as a juvenile or adult, or combining a juvenile and adult sentence. Clark said that between now and September should give him time to determine the character of the defendant and whether he’s a “gang banger.”
The 17-year-old male suspect facing murder charges in last year’s fatal stabbing of 18-year-old Luis Mejia Hernandez was implicated by damning evidence police found on his phone, according to evidence presented Monday.
Monday’s bench trial will continue into today for the defense to present their case, and a speedy verdict on second degree murder and murder by mob charges is expected from Judge James C. Clark. The suspect faces between five-to-40 years in prison for the second degree murder charge and five-to-40 years for the murder by mob, or lynching, charge.
The stabbing occurred during a brawl between two rival gangs of Alexandria City High School teenagers on Tuesday, May 24, 2022 — a week before graduation. Mejia Hernandez was fatally stabbed in the heart, and an autopsy showed that he also had abrasions to his neck, chin, the back of his hands, abdomen and knees, according to the medical examiner who testified that the cause of death was a 7/8-inch stab wound to the chest.
Commonwealth’s Attorney’s David Lord and Meredith Burke said that Mejia, a high school senior due to graduate within days, was outnumbered and fighting defensively at the Bradlee Shopping Center. They published into evidence multiple videos of the fight taken from a Alexandria Police Department dashcam, security cameras and videos from phones recovered by police. One security video shows Mejia Hernandez arriving to the parking lot in his car, parking, and then joining a group of students near a bus stop outside the Bradlee Shopping Center McDonald’s.
Lord and Burke allege that the suspect deliberately acted with cruel and deliberate malice.
“The defendant joined the fray and did not stop until he drove a knife into the chest of Luis Mejia Hernandez,” Burke said. “Videos show the defendant intentionally plunged his knife in the chest of Luis Mejia Hernandez.”
The suspect’s attorney’s, Sean Sherlock and Sebastian Norton, say that their client was a scared 16-year-old acting defensively, and that there is no evidence he stabbed Mejia Hernandez. Both defense attorneys would not comment on why they favored a bench trial.
Sherlock and Norton said that the Commonwealth’s case is built on circumstantial evidence, and without a murder weapon, confession or witnesses. Instead, they say, prosecutors only have “blurry cell phone videos of a scared 16-year-old in the middle of a violent brawl,” Norton said.
During Monday’s trial, the suspect sat quietly with a surgical face mask under his chin, and wore black pants, black sneakers and a long sleeve white button-up shirt. Several rows into the courtroom was Osmin Mejia Romero, the victim’s father, who sat emotionless while listening to a Spanish translation of the proceeding through headphones. Mejia Romero briefly appeared on the stand to identify photos of his son before resuming his seat in the gallery.
Brawl between rival student gangs
Two Alexandria Police officers responded initially to a trespassing call at the McDonald’s, and upon arriving a crowd of students left the restaurant and the scene escalated in the parking lot. Police testified that they were overwhelmed by the students and did not try breaking up the melee by activating the sirens, lights or PA system in their cruisers.
There were a number of other students with weapons, including Mejia Hernandez, who was was found to have had a stiletto pocket knife with a three-inch blade in his pocket throughout the altercation. Another student was found with brass knuckles.
The brawl occurred at around 12:30 p.m. and lasted about a minute.
“One of the subjects threw a water bottle, and another threw a mango pineapple smoothie,” testified Officer Byron Rush. “After that the subjects began to start fighting.”
Both Rush and Officer Malcolm Cook were the only officers to witness the incident, and said that they didn’t see the stabbing. The officers broke up groups of juveniles fighting, and helped Mejia Hernandez when he collapsed. He died soon after and was identified at Inova Alexandria Hospital by his driver’s license and student identification.
Friends of the victim say that police did not do enough to prevent the incident. Alexandria City High School shifted to virtual instruction for the remainder of the school year after the incident, and Mejia was posthumously awarded a graduation diploma.
Both sides agree that the suspect allegedly found out about a planned fight between two factions of students in the Bradlee parking lot while he was in the Alexandria City High School cafeteria. The suspect also confirmed to investigators that he owned a knife, bought at a smoke shop, although initially told investigators that he didn’t use it.
During the interrogation, the suspect asked if he could text his girlfriend, and police agreed and observed the code he used to unlock his phone. Police then got into the phone and found multiple videos of the brawl that they’d not seen before. The video was taken from a phone, and prosecutors say shows the moment when the stabbing occurred.
“He acknowledged he was the person in the video with the knife in his hand,” testified Detective Michael Wheylan. “He admitted to doing it , but advised it was in self defense… He didn’t deny that he didn’t do it.”
Wheylan conducted the interrogation, and was convinced of the suspect’s guilt when the suspect allegedly admitted to owning a knife, and acting in self defense. Wheylan also said that the suspect told him that he lost the knife after the incident.
Norton and Sherlock were unsuccessful in convincing Clark to strike the murder in the second degree and murder by mob charges. They said there was no evidence their client initiated the fight, and that in the photo allegedly showing him stabbing Mejia Hernandez, they claim that Mejia Hernandez was positioned to attack him.
“I can’t exclude the notion that (the suspect) was part of the mob,” Clark said.
Norton said that the blow was struck in a “split second” in the heat of a brawl, and that his client believed MS-13 gang members were present and that he was scared. He also said there was no evidence that the suspect and victim knew each other, or that there was pre-planning before the incident.
Lord, however, said that Mejia Hernandez was “constantly on his heels,” and that the suspect was a member of a mob who “inserted himself into the situation with the knife and ultimately inflicted the lethal blow.”
Amid a crime surge, Alexandria Police Chief Don Hayes said Monday night that the police force is seeing a “plethora” of guns out on the streets.
Alexandria’s gun-related crime jumped 100% in 2022 over 2021, and Hayes says that overall crime is up 27% for the year.
“I can tell you there are a plethora of guns out on the street,” Hayes said at an Agenda Alexandria panel on the crime surge. “I just read the last four daily watch reports that we have. There was one where officers stopped the car and they arrested the individual for having burglary tools in the car and also there was a gun there. Your officers made an arrest of a stolen car the other day, and in the stolen car there was a stolen gun. One of the shootings that happened about probably three weeks ago, up off of Madison Street, everyone one of the three (suspected) individuals that were stopped all had guns.”
Monday’s panel was held at The Lyceum, and included retired Sheriff Dana Lawhorne, Alexandria City High School parent Jennifer Rohrbach and Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Strange. It was moderated by Agenda Alexandria chair Rod Kuckro.
Rohrbach witnessed two fights outside Alexandria City High School last year when she went to pick up her child, prompting her to begin advocating for student safety.
“I witnessed two fights in front of the school picking my daughter up on different days,” she said. “And then a student was arrested with a loaded glock very close to the classroom at the front door. So what I did is I started getting involved in online groups and one thing led to another and so here I am advocating for safety in the city and for our kids.”
Hayes said that a lot of the uptick in gun violence is attributable to “crews” of violent youth and stopped short of calling them gangs. He also said that the guns seized are a mix of legal and illegal weapons.
“It’s the beefs that are going on between the crews, some from down Route 1, some from Woodbridge, some from Alexandria, and there is no one particular reason why it’s happening.” Hayes said. “I just think that things have changed and hopefully this is not going to be a norm, we can get a handle on this, and get them to do some other things that are constructive. But I will say this: that it’s been happening a lot, just not the same characters.”
The department’s strategy so far is to add police presence to high-crime areas, putting more cops in communities with public events and the strategically placement of mobile camera units. Hayes also said that his office is in constant communication with neighboring law enforcement agencies, as crime is up regionally and nationally.
Lawhorne, who served as sheriff from 2006 to 2021, said that there need to be harsher punishments for such offenses.
“These notification of shots fired, most are if Rod does something to make me mad, I drive over to his house, I stick my gun out the window, and I discharge it about 12 times with shell casings around the street,” Lawhorne said. “Rod’s going to return the favor. He’s going to drive back to my house and he’s going to do the same thing. That’s a simple explanation of kind of what’s going on… However, it’s done to intimidate others, but it is terrorizing neighborhoods and it’s unnacceptable.”
Lawhorne said that underage possession of a firearm is a class one misdemeanor, as is public discharge of a firearm.
“Unfortunately, sometimes those bullets hit property, or sometimes people, but let me say the majority they’re shooting in the air to intimidate somebody,” Lawhorne said. “Unless I hit somebody or their property it’s a class one misdemeanor. There needs to be harsher penalties for this reckless behavior.”
Hayes also said that the department is also short-staffed, and that significant resources are devoted to an increase in mental health-related calls for service.
“It’s a significant drain on our resources, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight,” Hayes said.
Multiple people from DC, Maryland and Virginia have been charged with felonies in Alexandria within the last several months as part of an alleged scheme to get driver’s and commercial driver’s licenses with forged documents, ALXnow has learned.
On May 5, 2022, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles discovered fraudulent out-of-state driving records being used to get driver’s licenses and commercial driver’s licenses, according to a recently released search warrant affidavit filed in the Alexandria Circuit Court by DMV’s law enforcement division.
That was when an “observant DMV customer service representative” alerted DMV law enforcement of suspected wrongdoing, said Pam Goheen, assistant commissioner for communications for Virginia DMV.
Seven people have been arrested in Alexandria in connection to the ongoing investigation, according to Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter.
“The case involves charges in multiple jurisdictions in Virginia, and obviously the defendants reside outside of Virginia,” Porter said. “As this is an ongoing investigation, my office cannot comment on the evidence, the charges, or our trial strategy. Anyone charged is presumed to be innocent and the Commonwealth bears the burden of proving every element of any charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt in a competent court of law.”
As of April 3, DMV has uncovered 94 cases of fraudulently issued licenses from altered driving records and altered residency documents, according to the search warrant affidavit. Additionally, those arrested referred investigators to an Instagram account that advertised the documents for sale.
“The seller required the purchasers to pay via Cash App and the documents would be emailed (and) printed off by the purchaser,” the search warrant affidavit said. “One individual provided screenshots of the advertisement from the Instagram account as well as instant messages describing how to obtain the Virginia license and which DMV office to go to.”
DMV found that transcripts were changed to show that the person listed had a valid driver’s or commercial driver’s license from the jurisdiction they live in “when in fact they did not,” according to the search warrant affidavit.
Goheen said that the investigation is ongoing. She did not say which DMV locations were targeted, except that some of the offenses occurred in several regions, including Northern Virginia.
“DMV has canceled licenses that were obtained illegally in this case, and additional arrests and charges are expected,” Goheen said. “It is inappropriate at this time to provide details of the activity until the investigation is complete and arrest warrants are served. However, DMV has taken steps to prevent future instances of the activity.”
So far, a 30-year-old man from Capital Heights, Maryland, is the only suspect found guilty. The man was initially charged with obtaining a license by fraud, a felony punishable by up to a year in prison and/or a $2500 fine, but the charge was downgraded to unauthorized use of DMV materials, which is a misdemeanor. He was found guilty on Jan. 24 and sentenced to 30 days in jail, all of which was suspended. He was also charged $214, which is now past due, according to court records.
Each suspect arrested in Alexandria was released on bond, or on their own recognizance, according to court records.
The other suspects include:
- A 28-year-old D.C. man — Charged with obtaining a license by fraud and forging public records. The offense allegedly occurred on October 29, 2022, he was arrested on April 12 and goes to court to have an attorney appointed to him on May 19
- A 29-year-old Hyattsville, Maryland, woman — Charged with obtaining a license by fraud and forging public records. The offense allegedly occurred on January, 19 2023, she was arrested on Feb. 2 and has a preliminary hearing on May 26
- A 38-year-old Waldorf, Maryland, woman — Charged with obtaining a license by fraud and forging public records. The offense allegedly occurred on May 22, 2022, she was arrested on March 26 and has a preliminary hearing on May 26
- A 28-year-old D.C. man — Charged with obtaining a license by fraud. The offense allegedly occurred on October 22.2022, he was arrested on March 15 and has a preliminary hearing on May 24
- A 41-year-old Clinton, Maryland, man — Charged with forgery and obtaining a license by fraud. The offense allegedly occurred on April 24, which is the same day he was arrested. His preliminary hearing is on June 23
- A 59-year-old D.C. man — Charged with obtaining a license by fraud. The offense allegedly occurred on March 3, he was arrested on April 26 and goes to court for an arraignment on May 10
(Updated 5:30 p.m.) A 45-year-old Fairfax County man was sentenced to 10 years in prison last Thursday for a 2022 crash on Duke Street that killed a Fairfax County man and injured four others.
Carlos Kami Adar McKethan pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and driving under the influence of drugs in connection with the death of 39-year-old Bizuayehu Bulti on the night of Feb. 22, according to Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter.
McKethan, who drove a silver SUV, was high on Phencyclidine (PCP) when he attempted to pass a bus at 110 miles per hour.
“McKethan did not slow down as he swerved around Mr. Bulti’s vehicle into oncoming traffic,” Porter said. “McKethan struck the back of Mr. Bulti’s vehicle, sending it crashing into another vehicle and spinning further down Duke Street. McKethan’s SUV spun out in the opposite direction, crashing into two vehicles that had been stopped at the westbound light.”
Bulti, who left behind a family he was supporting in Ethiopia, was driving home from his job at Virginia Hospital Center when the crash occurred.
The speed was verified by the Event Data Recorder in McKethan’s vehicle and his blood contained 0.04 mg/L of PCP, according to court records.
“This significant sentence imposed in this case holds the defendant accountable for his extremely reckless actions,” Porter said. “PCP is a dangerous drug, and the combination of drug use and immense speed caused a tragedy in this case. My thoughts are with Mr. Bulti’s family and with the other citizens who were injured as a result of the defendant’s crimes.”
Five vehicles were totaled in the crash, which occurred at around 11:50 p.m in the 3200 block of Duke Street. The crash left one person critically injured, two people seriously injured and two people with minor injuries, according to the Alexandria Police Department.
Porter continued, “Mr. Bulti was freed from the vehicle within minutes, but he soon succumbed to his injuries. Four additional victims suffered injuries, and all five cars were totaled.”
McKethan was sentenced to 20 years in prison, with 10 years suspended on condition of supervised probation for five years and uniform good behavior for 10 years.
He is currently held in the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center and will be transferred to the Virginia Department of Corrections.
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
Image via Google Maps
A 23-year-old West End man pleaded guilty today to a two-count murder indictment alleging that he fatally shot his brother with a rifle.
Enoc Cruz Villafuerte pleaded guilty to one count of murder in the second degree and another count of shooting in the commission of murder in connection to the death of his 24-year-old brother Jonathan Cruz Villafuerte.
Villafuerte, who is being held without bond in the Alexandria jail, admitted to shooting his brother in the chest with a .380 “assault-style” rifle in the living room of their father’s apartment in the 1400 block of N. Beauregard Street on the morning of June 6, 2022, according to Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter.
“There were no signs of a fight or struggle between Enoc and Jonathan, and Enoc confirmed with police that he and Jonathan were not arguing or fighting prior to him shooting Jonathan,” Porter said in a release. “Jonathan suffered one gunshot wound to the right side of his chest and was pronounced dead on-scene.”
Villafuerte will be sentenced on April 20. He faces a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison for the murder in the second-degree charge and a maximum of five years in prison for the shooting in the commission of murder charge.
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.”