By Nancy Drury Duncan –
Leon W. Morris, 63, of New Church, charged with malicious wounding, pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of assault and battery of a household member in a plea agreement with the commonwealth.
Deputies were called Nov. 5, 2021, to a mobile home in New Church for a domestic disturbance. When they arrived, they found Morris intoxicated and sitting on his front steps. The couple told the officer they were arguing, said Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Baker. He said Morris told police the argument was because his radio was too loud. The woman said it was because he was looking at other women.
“There was a lot of drinking between them,” said defense attorney Isabel Kaldenbach. During the argument, Morris pushed the woman and she fell to the floor. She was taken to the hospital where an X-ray showed a back injury, said Baker. it was revealed later that the back injury “may have been a ‘pre-existing condition,’” said Kaldenbach.
Morris admitted “putting his hands” on the woman was a mistake. “We’ve been together for 17 years,” Morris said. Judge Lewis suggested Morris go to Alcoholic Anonymous meetings to deal with his drinking. Morris’ response drew a chuckle from those in the courtroom when he said, “I was thinking about that and stopping smoking too and I am going to church every Sunday.”
In a plea agreement with the commonwealth, charges of attempted second-degree murder, abduction, malicious maiming, and robbery against 36-year-old Rymaar Tyquan Rideout were not prosecuted in exchange for his plea of guilty to possession of methamphetamine. The plea offer was made because both the victim and her daughter, who was a witness, refused to testify against Rideout and later left the area and could not be located, said Commonwealth’s Attorney Spencer Morgan.
On Nov. 8, 2021, police were called to Rideout’s New Church home. Rideout had a knife in his hand and was acting erratically, said Morgan. He said the defendant was brandishing a knife and preventing the woman from leaving the house. She was cut by the knife in an attempt to fend off her attacker, Morgan said.
When deputies arrived, the woman jumped from a window in the bedroom to get away, damaging her knee. Later, the woman refused to testify at a preliminary hearing. Her daughter, who witnessed the incident, also refused to testify. The drug charge arose from a separate incident. On July 8, 2021, police were called to the local hospital emergency room where Rideout was being treated for seizures related to drug use. He was charged with possession of methamphetamine. Morgan said he entered into the plea agreement because of the lack of cooperation of the victim and the witness. Rideout will remain in jail until his June 9 sentencing.
Bail was denied for Keshaun Lamar Coston, 30, of Painter. He will remain in jail until tried by a jury on June 30 for gun and drug charges and felony eluding. He is charged also with felony property damage. While trying to elude police, Coston drove his vehicle into a cemetery, damaging gravestones.
“Bail is denied,” said Judge W. Revell Lewis III. “The court feels you are a danger to the public.”
A motion for bail was denied for Joshua Seth Powell, 34, of Onancock. Powell is charged with abduction, use of a firearm, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
On Jan. 16, he and a woman with whom he had “an on-and-off relationship” for 10 years decided to spend the evening doing “recreational drugs.” It was, “A last hurrah before giving up drugs completely and attempting to have a happy family,” according to the alleged victim in the case.
On the witness stand, the victim said Powell was like a father to her child. She testified Powell has mental health issues but “is a great person when medicated.” She said he tries to improve, “but always falls back and says he doesn’t need any help.” She said she got a protective order against Powell in June 2021 but then got back together with him when he agreed to seek help.
In January, after a day of using molly, a form of MDMA also known as ecstacy, and cocaine, she said she came out of the shower to find him holding a shotgun and pointing it at her. She said he continued holding her at gunpoint.
He shot out the windows of an upstairs apartment in the building and then forced her to get into a car and drive. In an audio recording made by the woman on her phone and played in the courtroom, she was heard repeatedly pleading with him to calm down. She said he threw the shotgun out the window near the Melfa state police barracks.
Later, her low-gas light came on and she drove to Royal Farms. She said she got out of the car there and went inside and called police and her mother, who was keeping her child, to warn her to lock her doors. Powell soon drove away.
The victim said she feared for her safety if Powell was released from jail. A deputy who responded to her call at Royal Farms described her as “terrified.”
Morgan said, “His behavior is progressively more dangerous. It would be a very, very serious risk to release him.” Judge Lewis said, “The court is denying bail. I am very concerned that your behavior has gotten progressively worse. You are a danger to her.”