Richmond, Virginia (WRIC) – Virginia Attorney General Jason Miares does not want Mark Herring or his representatives to appear in court next week to support the innocence of one of the men serving life sentences, despite that they were acquitted in the 1998 Waverly police murder.
Terence Richardson and Ferron Claiborne said fears of the death penalty for the murder of officer Allen W. Gibson led them to plead guilty to lesser charges in 1999 to avoid trial in state court. Prosecutors moved the case to federal court, where a judge sentenced them to life in prison after a jury found them guilty of drug crimes but not guilty of Gibson’s murder.
Before Herring left the Attorney General’s office, Virginia backed efforts in a federal appeals court that sought to prove Richardson’s innocence. Miares’ office sent letter to the Virginia Court of Appeals to overturn the state’s position in the case by forcing the lawyer of both to ask the court to order Herring or his team to argue their position in support of the state’s previous position during the Feb. 22 hearing.
The Attorney General’s Office on Tuesday filed a motion to dismiss the motion, arguing that they had not been properly notified of the motion under rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia.
“Furthermore, there is no legal or factual basis on which this court should allow the Applicant to choose which arguments the Commonwealth of Virginia puts forward in this matter or which attorneys represent the Commonwealth,” wrote Brandon Wrobleski, Miares’s special assistant for investigation. .
Jarrett Adams, a lawyer for Richardson and Claiborne, responded by asking the court to reject Miares’ motion to dismiss the request, arguing that the Attorney General’s Office “participates in unnecessary petitions” and misinterpreting his letter to the court as a motion. .
“Second, the Commonwealth cannot be allowed to eat and eat cake,” Adams wrote in court on Wednesday. “If the Commonwealth misinterprets the applicant’s letter of 7 February as a petition, the applicant and this court must also interpret Letter from the Rzeczpospolita dated 4 February as an incorrectly submitted request for an additional briefing and / or additional briefing ”.
Miares’ spokeswoman did not respond to an 8News request for an interview or comment on the case.
“It’s not about finding the truth. It’s about burying him, ”Adams told 8News on Thursday.“ They are [Miyares’ office] I don’t want the truth about what happened to Officer Gibson to be known. ”
Adams said his office was in contact with members of the Herring Office who were working on the case and helping to prepare 78-page state summary supporting Richardson’s assertion of innocence. He added that he has no problems if the court decides that Herring does not need to appear in court, or if he considers Miares the opposite of the state’s position.
“I am all for. Not only do I represent Terence Richardson and Ferron Claiborne, I also represent the truth, ”Adams said.
Initially facing charges of murder in Sussex County Court, Richardson received five years in prison for manslaughter, and Claiborne pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting after that fact.
In 2001, the federal prosecutor’s office prosecuted drug trafficking charges in connection with Gibson’s death. A jury in federal court found the men guilty of drug crimes but acquitted them of murder. However, the judge in this case decided to use their statements in the state court to sentence them to life imprisonment.
Adams filed a motion of innocence to clear Richardson’s sentences in state court. Claiborne has pleaded guilty to wrongdoing in a state court, so his charges are not subject to a guilty plea. Adams has asked the court to include Herring or his team in oral disputes if Miares is allowed to overturn the state’s position.
Richardson and Claiborne have exhausted their appeals efforts, including in the Supreme Court, and former President Barack Obama also denied their pardon request when he was in office.
The men claim they did not kill Gibson with his own pistol more than two decades ago in a wooded area behind a residential complex, and questions have arisen about their case.
Gibson told a police officer who arrived at the scene after he was shot that the gun “just exploded” while fighting two men, one of whom had dreadlocks. Richardson and Claiborne did not have dreadlocks at the time of their arrest, and counsel argues that there are other suspects who may be guilty.
Christiana Gibson, the daughter of Officer Gibson, said in a statement last week to Miares’ office that she had always believed Richardson and Claiborne were guilty and she was “shocked and offended” by Herring’s decision to support Richardson’s allegation of not being Richardson’s allegation. Efforts to reach Herring on Thursday were unsuccessful.
When he took office, Miares fired and replaced all members of the Justice Group on illegal sentences of four. The current division is headed by Theo Stamas, a Democrat and former Commonwealth lawyer in Arlington, the Miares office said.
Arguments in the Virginia Court of Appeals are scheduled for Feb. 22. After the hearing, the court may grant Richardson’s request or deny his motion. The court may also schedule an evidence hearing, as requested by the Herring Office, to uncover additional facts in the case.
Subscribe to email alerts from ABC 8News and be the first to know when news appears in your community. Get the latest news, weather and more.