Leonard Eugene Blackwell, Jr. v. Commonwealth of Virginia


COURT OF APPEALS OF VIRGINIA Present: Judges Petty, Athey and Senior Judge Frank UNPUBLISHED Argued by videoconference LEONARD EUGENE BLACKWELL, JR. MEMORANDUM OPINION* BY v. Record No. 0731-20-3 JUDGE ROBERT P. FRANK JULY 20, 2021 COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF AMHERST COUNTY Michael T. Garrett, Judge Peter S. Frazier (The Frazier Law Firm, P.C., on brief), for appellant. Katherine Quinlan Adelfio, Assistant Attorney General (Mark R. Herring, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee. Leonard E. Blackwell, Jr., appellant, was convicted by a jury of one count of failing to provide sex offender information, second offense (CR18000836-00), in violation of Code § 18.2-472.1.1 On appeal, appellant contends the trial court erred in denying his motion to dismiss the three indictments against him, which he asserts were prosecuted in violation of his constitutional speedy trial and due process rights.2 * Pursuant to Code § 17.1-413, this opinion is not designated for publication. 1 He was acquitted of a second count (CR18000835-00), and the Commonwealth moved to nolle prosequi a third count (CR18000834-00). 2 As indicated in footnote 1 above, appellant was only convicted of one count. The other two counts did not result in conviction. Thus, we have no jurisdiction to address those two counts. See Code § 17.1-406. We discuss them only to provide context for our treatment of the count that is properly before the Court. BACKGROUND On October 1, 2018, appellant was indicted on two counts of failure to register as a sexual offender. The Commonwealth was required to commence prosecution on or before January 14, 2019. See Code § 19.2-243. A third registration count was brought by direct indictment on October 9, 2018 with a commencement date on or before March 21, 2019. By agreement, all three charges were set for a January 4, 2019 bench trial. On November 29, 2018, appellant was scheduled to be tried in a bench trial for separate sexual offenses that are not challenged in this appeal. That matter was continued because appellant asked for a jury trial and waived his speedy trial rights. Later that same day, the trial court arraigned appellant on the sex offender registration charge that is at issue in this appeal. At the beginning of the arraignment hearing, the judge informed the parties that the January 4, 2019 bench trial would have to be continued because the judge “ha[d] a jury trial that had to be set that day” in another county. The judge also wanted to arraign appellant to confirm whether he wanted a bench or jury trial. Despite the trial judge’s explanation that he could not conduct the bench trial on January 4, 2019, appellant indicated that he still wanted to proceed with the scheduled bench trial. The trial court asked, “[n]ow, what’s the speedy trial on this one?”, and the prosecutor responded: It’s January the 14th, Your Honor. I’m thinking in my mind I might just nol[le] pros[equi] the charges and re-indict and then ask for a jury trial but right now …

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