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

Jim Bullard jim.bullard at gmail.com
Thu Jan 27 07:37:18 CST 2011

I don't understand why testimony by video link would require the defendant's
consent. That's silly. They learned of the beatings because of a video.

Jim Bullard

On Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 7:34 AM, RockDancer <rockdancer97 at comcast.net>wrote:

> This is from yesterday’sTricities.com. I wonder if the prosecutions will
> continue on the lesser charges. --RockDancer
> ABINGDON, Va.<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<http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/technology/tags/cellular-telephone/>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<http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/entertainmentawardevent/tags/the-trail-days-festival/>in May, 21-year-old Thomas
> Reedy <http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/person/tags/thomas-reedy/>shot a cell
> phone<http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/technology/tags/cellular-telephone/>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<http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/organization/tags/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/>,
> Blevins<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<http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/person/tags/randy-ray-blevins/>also was charged with obstruction of justice and resisting arrest, both
> misdemeanors. Those charges are still pending in Washington County General
> District Court<http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/organization/tags/washington-county-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<http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/facility/tags/southwest-virginia-regional-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<http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/position/tags/defense-attorney/>would agree to something that makes the prosecution’s job easier.
> The Gumm brothers took to online hiking forums<http://www2.tricities.com/topics/types/industryterm/tags/online-hiking-forums/>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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