Lancaster County Circuit Court Report

by Audrey Thomasson

LANCASTER—A defense attorney who got creative in his client’s plea had to retract the plea after a lecture from the judge March 10 in Lancaster County Circuit Court.

Attorney Wayne Painter tried to enter a plea of “facts sufficient” on behalf of his client, who was charged with felony embezzlement from her former employer, Walmart. Painter tried to argue that the code of Virginia allowed for such a plea.

“The law does not allow a plea of ‘facts sufficient’,” said Judge R. Michael McKenney, reading the code in court. “You may enter a plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest.”

Samantha Renee Ellis of Irvington changed her plea to no contest.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Jan Smith presented only one witness for the prosecution, Walmart assistant manager in charge of security LaDonna Baker. Baker testified that on several occasions from November 21 to 28, 2016, Ellis’s register came up short. A review of security cameras showed the cashier allegedly slipping cash from the register’s cash bag into her pocket.

Defense did not present any witnesses.

Judge McKenney accepted Ellis’s new plea. He noted the charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $2,500 fine.

He agreed to a defense request to defer finding her guilty until a pre-sentence investigation is completed. The case was continued to 9 a.m. June 2.

Judge McKenney also heard the following cases on March 3 and 10.

A capias was issued for the arrest of Eric Lee George of White Stone after he failed to show up in court on 10 charges of probation violation. The case was set for hearing on March 24.

Kevin Johnson Hall of Lancaster had his sentence and probation revoked for violating the terms of his probation. Hall is facing up to eight months in jail.

The case against Kenneth B. Jackson of Topping for violation of probation on felony and misdemeanor offenses was continued to April 28 on a motion by defense.

Jordan A. Cauthorne of Lancaster pled guilty to two felonies of manufacturing a controlled substance. In a plea deal, he received an active sentence of 13 months, was fined $4,095 including court costs, and given two years’ supervised probation upon release.

Dwayne Dante Noel of Newport News was scheduled for trial on two charges of felony manufacture of a controlled substance. Trial was postponed pending his request to change his attorney. A trial date will be set Friday, March 17.

A plea deal for Melanie Anne Meline of Hague was rejected by the judge. Meline is charged with two felonies in robbing NN Burger Company in Kilmarnock. The case has been assigned to Judge Herbert Hewitt and will be heard March 24.

Annette S. Chewning of Weems, charged with three felonies of selling Schedule I/II drugs, was in court for advice about attorney arrangements. Her case will be set on Friday, March 17.

The case against Phillip Ethan Dean of White Stone for probation violation on felony convictions was continued to April 28. Dean is facing 36 years in prison.

Jerevon R. Henderson of Lancaster was in court for review of probation violation on a felony conviction. His review was continued to April 7.

Andrea Kay Broughman of Topping failed to appear for trial on charges of felony distribution of Schedule IV drugs. The judge issued a capias for her arrest and rescheduled trial to March 17.

Patrick Arthur Tuck of Callao pled guilty to an amended charge of possession of a controlled substance. The case was taken under advisement for one year and he was directed to perform 100 hours of community service, required to participate in drug evaluation and treatment programs and his driver’s license was suspended for six months.

James Charles Newton of Weems was granted bond in the amount of $10,000 and released until his trial May 12 on three felonies of manufacture of a controlled substance.

Velencia W. Owens of Lancaster was cross-arraigned on felony manufacture of a controlled substance. She was assigned a court appointed attorney. Trial will be set Friday, March 17.