Access To Dean Petition Argued
Elkton Man’s Supporters See ‘Competing Rights’
Posted: December 14, 2012
HARRISONBURG — The fight over whether a local pastor should be forced to give prosecutors a petition with the signatures of supporters of a shooting defendant landed in Rockingham County Circuit Court Thursday.
In July, Cindy Carr, pastor of River of Life Ministries just outside Harrisonburg, declared she had roughly 1,600 signatures on a petition asking prosecutors to drop the charges against Rudolph Dean.
Dean, 47, of Elkton, is accused of shooting a county resident in the neck following an alleged “road rage” incident in January.
Dean is charged with one felony count of aggravated malicious wounding and one felony count of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
On Sept. 18, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Lou Nagy subpoenaed the petitions from Carr, but she refused, saying the government doesn’t have the right to demand the list of names.
The pastor and her attorney, Grant Penrod, appeared in court Thursday to fight the subpoena.
“We have an issue of competing rights,” Penrod told Judge T.J. Wilson.
He said it’s a fight between Carr’s right to freedom of speech and the prosecutor’s right to the selection of an impartial jury.
Nagy argued that the people who signed the petition shouldn’t be allowed on the jury, and the only way to make sure is to have the list.
“We live in a real world,” he told the judge. “Jurors sometimes have an ax to grind and they do get on juries.”
Penrod, however, argued that prosecutors can simply ask potential jurors if they signed the petition.
Following the attorneys’ arguments, Wilson ordered Carr to hand over the petition to him to view. Carr then claimed that there are multiple copies of the petition in different parts of the state. The judge told her to gather as many as she can and to turn them in to the court by 5 p.m. today.
Wilson said he would issue a written opinion on the case at a later date.
Rockingham County sheriff’s deputies say Dean shot Robert Crawford, 42, outside Crawford’s home at 7011 South East Side Highway, seven miles south of Elkton, on the afternoon of Jan. 30.
Deputies say the dispute between the two men began on Spotswood Trail when Dean was driving his pickup truck slowly in the passing lane.
Crawford told investigators he used an obscene gesture when passing Dean on the highway. After Dean followed Crawford to his home, an altercation ensued that ended with the shooting, deputies say.
Prosecutors say it is case of road rage, but Dean, who is free from Rockingham County Jail on a $50,000 bond, denies wrongdoing. He claims the shooting was self-defense.
Trial has been set for April 2.
Contact Pete DeLea at 574-6278 or firstname.lastname@example.org