VIRUS OUTBREAK-FIRST VIRGINIA DEATH
Virginia reports state's first death from coronavirus
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia health officials on Saturday reported the state's first death from the coronavirus, a man in his 70s who died of respiratory failure after acquiring the virus through an unknown source. In a news release, the Virginia Department of Health and the Peninsula Health District reported the death of the man, who had been hospitalized. U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman says the death occurred in James City County. Officials say they are reaching out to all identified contacts of people who have tested positive for coronavirus and are giving them instructions on how to protect themselves and others.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-FEDERAL COURTS
Some court cases postponed due to coronavirus outbreak
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Misdemeanor, traffic and petty offense cases in federal court have been postponed in the Eastern District of Virginia in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The district also has suspended all non-case related events, tours and other gatherings in courthouses, including naturalization ceremonies. Chief Judge Mark Davis said in a special order that there have been confirmed or presumptive cases of coronavirus within the Alexandria, Richmond and Norfolk divisions of the court. He also said there have been reports of people scheduled to appear in court who are under self-quarantine based on possible exposure. The order says the cases will be continued through April 30.
Virginia county to pull inmates from troubled regional jail
CHESTERFIELD, Va. (AP) — Concerns about inadequate medical care at a regional jail in Virginia have prompted officials in one county to begin removing nearly 200 inmates. Chesterfield County Sheriff Karl Leonard said he has received nearly daily messages from family members of inmates who say their loves ones are receiving poor or negligent medical care at the Riverside Regional Jail. Riverside has been has been dogged by allegations of mismanagement. It is currently under state probation for three years following two inmate suicides in 2017 that state officials said were directly or indirectly caused by staff shortcomings and policy violations.
For environmentalists, a 'monumental' legislative session
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Environmental advocates notched one win after another this legislative session as the new Democratic majority passed their top-priority legislation, including measures long opposed by Republicans who used to be in charge. Legislators sent bills to Gov. Ralph Northam that will remake how Virginia's utilities generate electricity, remove barriers to rooftop solar, ban offshore drilling and fracking in much of the state and mandate more coal ash cleanup. Others will make the state a full participant in a carbon cap-and-trade program and create a state environmental justice council. Republicans and other ratepayer advocates have warned that some of the energy-related legislation will come at a steep cost when it comes to residents' electric bills.
Man in love triangle gets to 22 years for killing teacher
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — A Utah man who was in a love triangle and mistakenly killed a Virginia elementary school teacher has been sentenced to 22 years in prison. Ed Shaw was sentenced Friday after pleading guilty in October to second-degree murder in the death of Caroline Hendrix. Shaw fatally shot Hendrix on New Year's Eve 2017. Court documents say Shaw meant to kill a man, Alex Novak, who was previously involved with Shaw's lover. Shaw attempted to kill Novak on New Year's Eve 2017 but instead fatally shot Hendrix, who was a long-time friend of Novak's. She was sitting in Novak's car when Shaw shot her.
SUPREME COURT-POLICE IMMUNITY
Supreme Court petitioned on police officers' legal immunity
ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — A public interest law firm is asking the Supreme Court to consider whether police officers and other government agents should have broad immunity from civil lawsuits. The court is expected to decide as soon as this month whether to take the cases. In one, a college student was restricted from suing officers who beat him up in a case of mistaken identity. Another involves a woman whose home was destroyed by agents looking for her ex-boyfriend. The Arlington, Virginia-based Institute for Justice says officers are hiding behind a doctrine called “qualified immunity” that allows them to violate citizens' rights without penalty.
Judge denies bond for accused neo-Nazi in swatting scheme
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A federal magistrate has denied bond to an accused neo-Nazi who prosecutors say schemed to call in bomb threats to targets including a former Cabinet official and a black church in Virginia. A lawyer for 26-year-old John Denton of Montgomery, Texas, asked the judge at a detention hearing Friday in federal court in Alexandria to release Denton to his grandfather's custody with electronic monitoring and other conditions. But the judge denied bond, saying she was concerned about the extensive nature of the conspiracy. Prosecutors say Denton led a neo-Nazi group called Atomwaffen Division that advocates racial holy war.
Dominion settles over alleged environmental violations