US Rep. Wittman drops out of race for Virginia governor

wfir-defaultRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman is dropping out of the race for the Republican nomination for governor of Virginia. Wittman’s campaign manager made the announcement Thursday afternoon.¬† Wittman represents the 1st Congressional District, which runs from Hampton Roads into the Fredericksburg area and Prince William County. He says he believes he can “do the most good for Virginia” by staying in Congress. His departure leaves Prince William Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart, state Sen. Frank Wagner and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie seeking their party’s nomination. Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam is the only Democratic candidate. Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe cannot run again because Virginia governors are barred from serving consecutive terms.

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Suspect in Lyon sisters slayings faces new charges

Lloyd Welch, Jr.

Lloyd Welch, Jr.

MANASSAS, Va. (AP) – The man charged in the 1975 slayings of two sisters who vanished from a suburban Maryland mall has been indicted on new charges in connection with an unrelated case in northern Virginia. Multiple news outlets report that a Manassas grand jury on Monday indicted Lloyd Lee Welch, Jr. on charges of rape, sexual battery and taking indecent liberties. Further details regarding the charges were not immediately clear. Welch is awaiting trial in Bedford County, Virginia, on charges of first-degree murder in the disappearance of 12-year-old Sheila Lyon and 10-year-old Katherine Lyon. The sisters were last seen walking from their house to the Wheaton Plaza Mall. The girls never came home, and no bodies were found.

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Imprisoned former CIA officer fights conviction over leak

State-NewsRICHMOND, Va. (AP) – A former CIA employee serving a 3 1/2 year-prison for leaking government secrets to a reporter is taking his case to a federal appeals court.A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear Jeffrey Sterling’s case Tuesday. A jury convicted the 49-year-old on all counts last year after he was charged under the Espionage Act for leaking details of a CIA mission to New York Times journalist James Risen.Prosecutors portrayed Sterling as a disgruntled former employee who exposed a plan to stall Iranian ambitions to build a nuclear weapon in an attempt to discredit the CIA.Sterling’s attorneys and other advocates claim prosecutors only went after Sterling because Risen’s story made the CIA look foolish.

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Police: Man arrested one day after woman dies from being set on fire

State-NewsRICHMOND, Va. (AP) – A Virginia man who police say set his girlfriend on fire, killing her, has been arrested in the Richmond area. Media outlets report that Lewis Edward Reeder was arrested Thursday, one day after the death of his alleged victim, 64-year-old Delores Williams. Fairfax County police say officers responded to an Alexandria home on Nov. 19 for the report of a house fire and a disorderly man. Firefighters extinguished the blaze and found that Williams had been badly burned. Police say Williams and Reeder, her live-in boyfriend, had been arguing when he set her on fire. Reeder fled from the scene and evaded authorities until his arrest. Reeder was sought for aggravated malicious wounding, although police say additional charges are possible. It’s unclear if Reeder has an attorney.

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Legislative leaders say Virginia State Police pay a priority

State-PoliceRICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Legislative leaders from both parties say increasing salaries and reducing staffing shortages among Virginia State Police will be a priority in the upcoming legislative session despite the state’s budget shortfall. The state is facing an estimated $1.5 billion shortfall due to lower-than-expected income and sales tax collections, which prompted Gov. Terry McAuliffe over the summer to scrap planned raises for state employees. The head of the State Police says since that time, departures have escalated, leaving the agency with a severe manpower shortage. Sen. William Stanley, a Republican from Franklin County, and Senate Minority Leader Richard Saslaw, a Democrat from Fairfax County, both said Thursday that the low pay and staffing shortages were a major issue. The two spoke at a forum on legislative issues in Richmond.

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New discoveries could be found in President Monroe’s letters

State-NewsWILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) – William & Mary has acquired more than two dozen letters that President James Monroe wrote to his Treasury Secretary. The university in Williamsburg, Virginia, says they’ve never been published before. The school says the acquisition comes at a time of renewed interest in the fifth president. He served from 1817 to 1825. Jay Gaidmore, director of the Special Collections Research Center at the school’s Swem Library, says the correspondence could provide new scholarship discoveries into Monroe’s presidency. He says there are not many existing letters between Monroe and his cabinet. The letters were purchased from the Raab Collection, a historical document and autograph dealer. And the firm got them from descendants of William Crawford, Monroe’s Treasury Secretary. The university will display the letters next year and post them online.

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Virginia court to Rocky Mount man: Hanging noose in yard not protected by 1st Amendment

Gavel-Court-LegalRICHMOND, Va. (AP) – The Virginia Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of a man who was sentenced to six months in jail for hanging a black-faced dummy in his front yard. Jack Eugene Turner of Rocky Mount was convicted last year of violating a state law that prohibits hanging a noose to intimidate. His next-door neighbors are black. Turner displayed the dummy the same day nine black churchgoers were massacred in South Carolina. Turner argued on appeal that his action should’ve been protected by the First Amendment’s right to free speech. But the court rejected that argument on Tuesday. The court wrote that the First Amendment “protects Turner’s right to be a racist” but doesn’t “permit him to threaten or intimidate others who do not share his views.” Holland Perdue, Turner’s attorney, said the man has already served his jail sentence. Purdue said he looks forward to appealing to the Virginia Supreme Court.

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Virginia man selected for 2017 Rhodes Scholarship

State-News¬†RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -A Richmond, Virginia man is among 32 Americans chosen as 2017 Rhodes Scholars.Cameron Clarke is a senior at Howard University, where he is double-majoring in community health education and biology.Clarke is a certified EMT and has authored six publications. Clarke is co-president of Howard University’s chapter of the Peer Health Exchange and serves as a news editor of the school’s student newspaper, The Hilltop.Clarke is a Congressional intern with the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.Clarke plans to conduct research in primary health care during his time at Oxford University.The Rhodes Trust announced the 2017 recipients of the prestigious scholarship on Sunday. The recipients were chosen from 882 applicants endorsed by 311 colleges and universities.

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Man convicted of Richmond killings to get execution date

State-NewsRICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Virginia is preparing to set an execution date for a man sentenced to death in the New Year’s Day 2006 slaying of a Richmond family.Attorneys will hold a hearing Monday via teleconference with Richmond Circuit Court Judge Beverly Snuckals to set an execution date for Ricky Gray.Gray and another man were convicted in the slayings of Bryan and Kathryn Harvey and their daughters, 9-year-old Stella and 4-year-old Ruby, in a home invasion.The Attorney General’s Office has asked the court to set an execution date of Jan. 17 or 18 to give Gov. Terry McAuliffe time to consider any clemency request.Gray was initially scheduled to be executed March 16 but the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals put it on hold while he appealed the case.

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Lawmakers form panel to prep for healthcare law changes

State-NewsRICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Virginia state lawmakers are forming a new panel to monitor changes in federal health care policy under President-elect Donald Trump.The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that House Appropriations Chairman S. Chris Jones and Senate Finance Co-Chairman Emmett W. Hanger Jr. are creating the panel to help lawmakers prepare for the changes to, or the repeal of, the Affordable Care Act.Trump and the Republican-led Congress are pledging to repeal and replace federal health care law, though Trump has indicated that he wants to keep some parts of the law.

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