New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | March 20, 2023

New Kent man found guilty for strangling ex-lover during argument

By Andre Jones | February 28, 2023 1:43 pm

A New Kent man who attacked an ex-lover has been found guilty on the crime following Monday morning proceedings in New Kent Circuit Court.

Andrew Gordon Luck, 44, of the 5500 block of Ridgewood Drive, was convicted on one count of strangulation following the contested trial. He was found not guilty on two charges of misdemeanor violating a protective order.

On Aug. 19, 2022, New Kent Sheriff’s Office Deputy Schyler Sibley responded to a call for service at a residence in the county. Upon arriving, he found a victim, who he described as visually distressed and upset. Upon observation, Sibley indicated that he saw discoloration on the victim’s neck and took pictures of it.

Luck became a person of interest and Sibley attempted to contact him. According to the deputy’s testimony, Luck became non-compliant and refused to meet with the officer. Luck could not be located until a neighboring jurisdiction found him.

During cross-examination of the officer, defense attorney James Cooke asked about the officer’s report. Cooke pointed to a line on the incident report where if it asked if the victim had injuries.

“You have a ‘N’ on here, doesn’t that mean no?” the defense attorney asked Sibley.

“The ‘N’ means not applicable,” the deputy responded. “I’m not qualified as a medical expert and that is only filled out when they are present.”

The victim testified on the stand next, recounting the event.

“He contacted me and told me he was going to be homeless,” the victim said. “He came into the home and when the kids went upstairs, he asked me about my life insurance and if the kids would be taken care of if anything happened.”

After the two argued, the victim testified that the defendant got on top of her as she was stretched across the sofa.

“The next thing I know he was on top of me,” the victim said. “He had a hand pushing against my neck and his other hand across my nose and mouth.

“I couldn’t do anything,” she added, speaking about her embarrassment of the situation.

After forensic nurse Megan Pone testified on the victim’s examination, Cooke made a motion to strike.

“The red mark on her neck doesn’t define a bodily injury,” the defense lawyer said, citing case law.

But Cooke’s motion to throw out the charge was denied, leading to Luck testifying on his defense.

“My son told me to come over,” he commented. “I was pleading with her to stop all of her drinking.

“What she said isn’t true,” Luck added. “I told her that I don’t like it when she’s drunk. She said I was trespassing and began shoving me. That’s when I grabbed her around the cheeked and I squeezed them and pushed her against the wall.”

However, cross-examination by New Kent Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Greg Overholser focused on the defendant’s own words.

“Didn’t you shove her?” he asked the defendant. “Doesn’t that constitute as violence?”

“I shoved her, but I didn’t bring it,” Luck responded, specifically on why he grabbed the victim.

But the defendant’s story didn’t make sense, something that Judge B. Elliott Bondurant pointed out in rendering his verdict.

“I’m looking at the 2015 case of Ricks vs. The Commonwealth of Virginia,” the judge said. “Here we have a victim who was held against their will and was strangled, with marks around their neck that the court ruled was a result of the attack.

“This case in front of me has similar details to this one,” Bondurant added. “Based on the deputy observance, testimony from the victim and the forensics expert, I find that the victim is more credible in this case and the defendant is guilty of strangulation.”

Formal sentencing for Luck is scheduled for May 8. He faces up to five years in prison.

In other circuit court matters:

–Eric Nathan El Dada, 29, of the 3600 block of Autumn Hill Lane, Quinton, had one charge of misdemeanor fleeing from police dismissed after successfully completing the First Offender Program.

–Joseph Christopher Pitts, 41, of the 2400 block of Custis Mill Road, West Point, entered guilty pleas to one count of possession of a Schedule I/II substance, misdemeanor DUI under the influence of drugs, and misdemeanor disobeying a judge’s order as part of a plea agreement. One additional count of possession of a possession of a Schedule I/II substance was dropped as part of the deal.

In a summary of evidence, on Feb. 13, 2022, a New Kent Sheriff’s Office Deputy responded to a call of service for a single car accident at the 2100 block of Pocahontas Trail. Upon arriving, the officer found the driver, later identified as Pitts, passed out in the vehicle. The deputy administered Narcan to bring the defendant back to consciousness. Upon searching the vehicle, a small baggie was discovered in a cigarette box. It was later tested and discovered to be Fentanyl. Pitts consented to a blood-withdrawal test and the results determined he was under the influence of the drug at the time of the crash.

Under the plea agreement, Pitts received a five-year sentence with all but three months suspended on the possession of a Schedule I/II substance conviction. All 12 months on the misdemeanor DUI charge and all 10 days on the misdemeanor disobeying a judge’s order convictions were suspended. He must pay a fine of $500 related to the DUI conviction.