[at-l] (Damascus) Prosecutor declines to pursue charges

RockDancer rockdancer97 at comcast.net
Thu Jan 27 06:34:44 CST 2011

This is from yesterday'sTricities.com. I wonder if the prosecutions will
continue on the lesser charges. --RockDancer

<http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/provinceorstate/tags/virginia/>  -
The three Damascus
<http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/city/tags/damascus/>  men accused of
ambushing two Appalachian Trail hikers in a 30-second cell phone
video titled "Hiker Bashing," will not be prosecuted.

Washington County Commonwealth's Attorney
<http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/position/tags/attorney/>  Dennis
Godfrey <http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/person/tags/dennis-godfrey/>
said the victims, brothers Jamie
<http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/person/tags/jamie-gumm/>  and
Zachary Gumm
<http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/person/tags/zachary-gumm/> , live in
Iowa <http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/provinceorstate/tags/iowa/>
and decided not to return to Abingdon for court proceedings.

Two days before the Trail Days festival
il-days-festival/>  in May, 21-year-old Thomas Reedy
<http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/person/tags/thomas-reedy/>  shot a
cell phone
video of his friends, Randy Ray Blevins
<http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/person/tags/randy-ray-blevins/>  and
Caleb Dean <http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/person/tags/caleb-dean/>
, said Damascus Police
Chief <http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/position/tags/chief/>  Bill
Nunley <http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/person/tags/bill-nunley/> .  

"The plan is, we ride down the trail and the first hiker we see, we knock
them the f*** out," Nunley
<http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/person/tags/bill-nunley/>  recalled
one of the men said in the video. "And then they all laughed," Nunley
<http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/person/tags/bill-nunley/>  said.

The trio pedaled their bicycles to the Creeper Trail
<http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/facility/tags/creeper-trail/>  and
ran into the Gumm brothers.  

"You could hear them screaming for their lives," Nunley
<http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/person/tags/bill-nunley/>  said.

The Gumm brothers, 23 and 20 years old, cut their Appalachian Trail hike
short and left Damascus
<http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/city/tags/damascus/>  that night,
both bruised and bloodied.   

They did not contact police.

Three months later, an unrelated drug investigation led police to Reedy
<http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/person/tags/thomas-reedy/> , then
his phone and the video called "Hiker Bashing" stored there.

Reedy <http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/person/tags/thomas-reedy/> ,
<http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/person/tags/randy-ray-blevins/>  and
Dean <http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/person/tags/caleb-dean/>  were
all charged with two counts of malicious wounding, a Class 5 felony, and two
counts of assault by a mob, a Class 3 felony, punishable by up to 20 years
in prison. Blevins
also was charged with obstruction of justice and resisting arrest, both
misdemeanors. Those charges are still pending in Washington County General
District Court
general-district-court/>  with a hearing scheduled for March 2.

The other two aren't entirely out of the woods yet either.

Reedy <http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/person/tags/thomas-reedy/>  is
being held without bond at the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail
ional-jail/>  pending a February trial on 52 fraud charges - ranging from
obtaining money by false pretenses and credit card fraud.

Caleb Dean <http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/person/tags/caleb-dean/>
, too, is awaiting trial for drug possession, distribution of marijuana and
probation violation.

Godfrey <http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/person/tags/dennis-godfrey/>
said Wednesday that his office was "ready, willing and able" to prosecute
the men for the May beating, but the Gumm brothers work and go to school. A
prosecution could take a week or more and require several trips to Abingdon,
which the brothers weren't willing to commit to.

The county offered to pay for their travel, Godfrey
<http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/person/tags/dennis-godfrey/>  said.
But the Gumm brothers told him
<http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/person/tags/dennis-godfrey/>  they'd
put the incident behind them and wanted to move on.

Godfrey <http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/person/tags/dennis-godfrey/>
said that without the victims' testimony, the case would surely fall apart.
Any kind of video testimony would require the defendant's consent, he said.
And no defense attorney
would agree to something that makes the prosecution's job easier.

The Gumm brothers took to online hiking forums
ms/>  to defend their decision not to testify.

"We just want this thing to go away," they wrote. "All of you can see this
clearly from your own point of view, that of a hiker. But what about the
point of view of a teenage punk in small town America? To quote a man I
admire, but don't quite believe in, turn the other cheek."

The Gumm brothers added: "happy hiking all!" 


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