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Virginia malicious wounding- Non-consensual tattooing is disfigurement

Fairfax criminal lawyer on Virginia's malicious wounding statute

Apr 17, 2017 Virginia malicious wounding- Non-consensual tattooing is disfigurement

Fairfax Northern Virginia criminal lawyer/DWI attorney pursuing best defense

As much as I know I am on the side of the angels with my criminal defense work, that far from means the absence of utterly depraved criminal defendants in the world.

Alexander Michael Edwards in 2016 was convicted in Campbell County, Virginia, Circuit Court for malicious wounding for the non-consensual tattooing of two minors, and for conspiring to murder them to avoid their testimony against him at trial.

The elements of malicious wounding under the Virginia Code are to (1) maliciously (2) shoot, stab, cut, or wound any person or by any means cause him bodily injury (3) with the intent to maim, disfigure, disable, or kill. Virginia Code § 18.2-51. Malicious wounding is a Class 3 felony carrying five years to twenty years in prison. Such a crime is a Class 6 felony carrying up to five years in prison if done without malice (thus making it criminal wounding rather than malicious wounding).

One day, then-20-year-old Edwards was at home with two girls who lived at the house, who then were 11 and 12 years old. For whatever reason, and against the will of both girls, Edwards took their mother’s boyfriend’s tattooing equipment and tattooed one of the girl’s names on her shoulder, and the other girl’s dog’s name on her wrists.

To make matters worse, after forcing the tattoos on the two girls, and while in jail awaiting trial for the case, Edwards allegedly made a written offer to another inmate to pay for the inmate to arrange to kill the two girls in order to prevent the girls from testifying at trial on sex charges against Edwards, writing as follows to the other inmate:

Dear Robbie, need these two people killed to keep them from testifying in my case . . . . I got $5,000.00 in payments for you to handle this. Without these two, the Commonwealth has no case on my sex charges. Alex Edwards.” Edwards v. Virginia, Record No. 0939-16-3 (Va. Ct. App., April 11, 2017) (unpublished).

As an aside, if criminal suspects and criminal defendants were smarter than this in leaving such a smoking gun — here in the form of a signed note to another inmate — our jails and prisons would be much emptier than they now are.

In an unpublished opinion, the Virginia Court of Appeals affirmed Edwards’s malicious wounding conviction, determining that non-consensual tattooing satisfies the disfigurement element of Virginia’s malicious wounding statute. Edwards v. Virginia

Edwards reverses his murder conspiracy conviction, due to the absence of evidence that the inmate who received his murder-for-hire solicitation agreed to engage in such activity.

In mid-2016, Edwards was sentenced in total as follows for his above convictions and for the following remaining convictions that all resulted from bench trial convictions on the same day: two life sentences for earlier instances of rape and another for forcible sodomy from an earlier occasion, against the same two girls for whom he was convicted of forcibly tattooing; and “18 years on two counts of malicious wounding, two counts of child abuse, one count of attempted murder, one count of conspiracy and one count of soliciting a felony.”

A check of the Campbell County Circuit Court’s online docketing system indicates that Edwards’s sentence for murder conspiracy was five years suspending three years. Therefore, his partial appellate victory on the conspiracy count does not amount to much in his favor in terms of reducing his total prison sentence.

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