The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Monday, August 11, 2014
By KEN BRADLEY - Staff Writer
A charge of misconduct against former Franklin County Sheriff Ewell Hunt was dismissed Thursday in Franklin County Circuit Court as was stipulated in a plea agreement in July 2013.
Hunt entered an "Alford plea" last year to a misconduct charge for not issuing a BOLO (Be On the Lookout) in connection with the shooting death of Jennifer Agee on Memorial Day in May 2011.
Under the terms of the conditional plea, Hunt maintained his innocence but stipulated that the prosecution may have sufficient evidence to convict him, according to Hunt's defense attorney Bill Stanley.
As part of the plea agreement, Hunt agreed to donate $1,000 to the Turning Point Domestic Violence Shelter in Salem at the request of Jennifer Agee's family, Stanley said.
In return, the prosecution agreed to continue the case for one year, after which the misdemeanor charge would be dismissed as long as Hunt did not incur any new criminal charges during that time.
Hunt was found guilty of misfeasance of his public obligation for not issuing the BOLO in September 2012.
At that time, General District Judge J.C. Quigley of Radford said, "It's not what he did, it's what he didn't do. As the sheriff, he (Hunt) was the captain of the ship."
Quigley agreed with special prosecutor Michael Doucette of Lynchburg's argument that Hunt should have immediately issued a BOLO instead of calling Salem police directly when he learned that former deputy Jonathon Agee was armed and possibly on his way to Salem, where Jennifer Agee, his ex-wife, lived.
"I don't think the sheriff (Hunt) wanted the end result to happen," Doucette said. "But his first priority should have been to get the word out."
During the trial in General District Court, Stanley said under Common Law, the prosecution was required to prove evil or corrupt intent of Hunt's actions on that day.
Stanley argued that the entire case against Hunt was "Monday morning quarterbacking," stating that the prosecution presented "not one scintilla of evidence that demonstrates evil or corrupt intent in any of Hunt's actions on that day."
Hunt was sentenced to 30 days with all the time suspended on the misdemeanor charge, and he was ordered to pay a $500 fine.
Stanley immediately appealed the verdict to circuit court.
Hunt released a written statement after his court appearance.
"I am glad this matter has been resolved for all involved, and I look forward to when this charge is dismissed," he said. "As sheriff, I always tried to do the best of my ability at all times....While I acknowledge that mistakes were made by me and others while we tried to grasp what was occurring and prevent this tragedy from happening, I submit that my actions on that day were not criminal in nature."
"Throughout my law enforcement career, I always put the protection of my fellow citizens first," he added. "It goes without saying that I wish the events of that day had been different, and I extend my deepest sympathies to the family of Jennifer Agee."
Jonathan Agee is serving three life sentences for the the fatal shooting of his ex-wife Jennifer Agee at a Sheetz in Roanoke and the shooting of Virginia State police Sgt. Matt Brannock, who was shot in the thigh during a car chase on I-81 following the incident at Sheetz.