Williams v. Commonwealth, 122920 VACA, 0224-20-4

Docket Nº:0224-20-4
Opinion Judge:JEAN HARRISON CLEMENTS JUDGE
Party Name:DWAIN ALAN WILLIAMS, JR. v. COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
Attorney:Jason M. Pelt (Norton Pelt, PLC, on brief), for appellant. Mason D. Williams, Assistant Attorney General (Mark R. Herring, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.
Judge Panel:Present: Judges Beales, Malveaux and Senior Judge Clements Argued by videoconference
Case Date:December 29, 2020
Court:Court of Appeals of Virginia

DWAIN ALAN WILLIAMS, JR.

v.

COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

No. 0224-20-4

Court of Appeals of Virginia

December 29, 2020

FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF STAFFORD COUNTY Michael E. Levy, Judge

Jason M. Pelt (Norton Pelt, PLC, on brief), for appellant.

Mason D. Williams, Assistant Attorney General (Mark R. Herring, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.

Present: Judges Beales, Malveaux and Senior Judge Clements Argued by videoconference

MEMORANDUM OPINION [*]

JEAN HARRISON CLEMENTS JUDGE

The trial court convicted appellant of carrying a concealed weapon, in violation of Code § 18.2-308(A). On appeal, appellant challenges the trial court's finding that the knife in question was a "weapon" prohibited from concealment under the statute.1

BACKGROUND

"In accordance with familiar principles of appellate review, the facts will be stated in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, the prevailing party at trial." Gerald v. Commonwealth, 295 Va. 469, 472 (2018) (quoting Scott v. Commonwealth, 292 Va. 380, 381 (2016)). In doing so, we discard any of appellant's conflicting evidence and regard as true all credible evidence favorable to the Commonwealth and all inferences that may reasonably be drawn from that evidence. Id. at 473.

On March 29, 2019, ten-year-old J.B. was playing football outside with his adult neighbor, Jamal. At some point, Jamal threw the football over J.B.'s head and the football almost hit appellant's car. Appellant who also was outside warned, "hit my car and see what happens." Appellant then went into his home, came back outside with a "knuckle knife," and walked toward Jamal. J.B. saw the knuckle knife in appellant's hand once appellant got near the sidewalk, and appellant began swinging the knife at a tree. Appellant then put the knuckle knife in his pocket. J.B. testified that appellant approached him and mentioned how quickly he could stab someone. Appellant lifted J.B. off the ground, made stabbing motions and sounds on J.B.'s back and stomach, and "dumped" J.B. on the ground. J.B. then threw a football at appellant because he felt threatened. J.B. was visibly upset when he told his mother about the incident. J.B.'s mother called law enforcement.

Stafford County Sheriff's Sergeant J.P. Aubry responded to the incident and spoke with appellant. Aubry asked appellant if he owned brass knuckles. When appellant confirmed that he did, Aubry asked where they were located; appellant removed them from his pants pocket. The blade of the knife was closed, so it looked more like knuckles. Based on his view of the knife, Aubry did not think that it was spring operated. Aubry also testified that the weapon appeared to have the same operation as brass knuckles; in Aubry's definition, a blunt object that you hold in your hand to inflict pain on someone.

After the close of the Commonwealth's evidence, appellant moved to strike arguing that his weapon did not fit any of the named enumerated items prohibited from concealment. The trial court denied appellant's motion, finding that "whether it is a switchblade knife or metal knucks or a knuckle knife, the Court finds that it is a weapon of like kind to those enumerated in the subsection regarding carrying it concealed." Thus, the trial court denied the motion to strike the carrying a concealed weapon charge.

Appellant admitted that he retrieved the knuckle knife from his desk drawer, brought it out to Jamal, and "gestured like [he] was going to hit [Jamal] in the stomach." Appellant asserted that he displayed the handle to Jamal, not the blade. Appellant stated that he was not trying to show the knuckle knife to J.B. or any other kids playing on the street, so he kept it down by his side. Appellant acknowledged, however, that J.B. must have seen the knuckle knife when appellant approached Jamal. After his interaction with Jamal, appellant put the knuckle knife in his pocket...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP