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Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve T. Descano delivers remarks at a press conference in Fairfax (File photo by Jay Westcott)

Fairfax Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano is seeking a protective order against a man allegedly making threats against him and his family, WJLA first reported.

The man, whose name was redacted, was prosecuted by Descano’s office for other incidents of harassment and violating protective orders.

Descano received an emergency protective order on April 1 and is seeking a preliminary protective order after he said the harassment escalated.

“I feel that his latest actions constitute threats such that my family and I require a protective order to protect our health and safety,” Descano wrote.

He said the man harassed him at rallies and mailed documents addressed to his wife at their home address, saying he would “be visiting our neighborhood in the future.”

Descano said the tone of the messages has become more aggressive “as we close in on his next trial date.”

Westbound Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) at Glen Carlyn Drive (via Google Maps)

The driver involved in last month’s fatal motorcycle crash on Leesburg Pike (Route 7) has been charged with failing to yield on a left turn.

The Fairfax County Police Department announced yesterday (Monday) that its detectives had arrested the 35-year-old man from Bailey’s Crossroads and charged him with the traffic violation. He was released from custody after being served a summons.

An investigation found that the driver was headed west on Leesburg Pike in a 2000 Acura sedan and attempted to turn left onto Glen Carlyn Drive around 11 p.m. on March 10, according to the police.

“This caused the victim, who was riding a motorcycle at the time, to collide with Machado’s vehicle,” the FCPD said.

Alejandro Portillo, a 19-year-old from Arlington, was riding a 1996 Yamaha motorcycle east on Leesburg Pike in the left through-lane when he crashed into the sedan, police said in the initial news release.

Officers responded to the scene in Bailey’s Crossroads around 11:10 p.m. Portillo was taken to a hospital, where he died that evening.

Like in a 2022 crash on West Ox Road that killed a motorcyclist, the police investigation found that the driver’s actions in this case didn’t meet Virginia’s standards for a reckless driving or involuntary manslaughter charge, according to the Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.

Failure to yield the right-of-way can constitute reckless driving under state law, but it only applies in instances where the driver “fails to bring his vehicle to a stop immediately before entering a highway from a side road when there is traffic approaching” within 500 feet of the entrance.

“Though this tragic incident resulted in the death of one of our community members, the charge brought against the defendant is the appropriate one and reflects the alleged facts of the case,” Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office spokesperson Laura Birnbaum said.

Court proceedings in the West Ox Road crash concluded on Feb. 27 with the driver being fined $50, an outcome that “disappointed” the mother of Andrew Dearing, the motorcyclist who was killed.

According to the Fairfax County General District Court, Virginia imposes uniform fines for traffic offenses that can’t be altered by a clerk or magistrate, though it doesn’t restrict the amount that a judge could charge if the case reaches a court hearing. The total for failing to yield on a left turn is $97, including court costs and processing fees.

The driver in the crash that killed Portillo is scheduled to appear in court for an adjudicatory hearing on July 3, according to court records.

Image via Google Maps

Andrew Dearing, a 27-year-old fitness manager at Gold’s Gym in Reston, was killed in a vehicle crash on Oct. 25, 2022 (photo by Cason Kimura/Golds Gym)

When Andrea Brubaker entered the Fairfax County Courthouse on Feb. 27, she expected to see a trial with witnesses testifying and evidence presented against the driver who had crashed into her son, killing him, almost one-and-a-half years earlier.

Instead, she watched the driver leave the courtroom after a brief talk with a judge through his son, who translated, to pay a $50 fine for failing to yield on a left turn.

Recalling that morning a couple of days later, Brubaker told FFXnow that she was “saddened by the outcome” and “shocked” by what she saw as a “lack of attention” paid to the case by the prosecutor.

“Overall, I was disappointed that there was not a trial so that a courtroom, a judge, myself, and others could hear the facts of this case,” Brubaker said. “I had assumed at a minimum, that he would be found guilty of the two driving infractions he was charged with, but for some reason, the prosecutor decided against it. The defendant did not offer any remorse or explanation to the court, nor was it asked for by the court.”

Brubaker’s son, Andrew Dearing, died on Oct. 25, 2022 after the driver of a 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee crashed into him while he was riding his 2018 Yamaha MT07 motorcycle on West Ox Road in Fair Oaks, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.

In an initial news release, police said a preliminary investigation indicated that the motorcyclist had “proceeded straight through” the Ox Hill Road intersection and struck the Jeep, which then hit a pedestrian signal and collided with a 2013 Lexus GS350 sedan.

However, almost a month later, the FCPD announced that its detectives had charged the Jeep driver on Nov. 18 with two traffic violations: failing to yield on a left turn and failing to obey a traffic signal.

“Detectives determined [the driver], 79, of Fairfax was driving in the northbound turn lane on West Ox Road waiting to turn left onto Ox Hill Road,” the FCPD said. “[He] did not yield to the operator of a 2018 Yamaha MT07 motorcycle traveling southbound on West Ox Road resulting in the crash.”

Dearing was thrown from the motorcycle, which got totaled, according to a police crash report. He died that evening in a hospital at 27 years old.

The charges, explained

Brubaker says she was surprised to not see more serious charges, but according to the Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, the crash didn’t involve the kind of negligent or reckless behavior needed to meet Virginia’s standards for involuntary manslaughter or reckless driving.

In Virginia, involuntary manslaughter applies to fatal crashes where someone was driving under the influence, and reckless driving involves behavior careless enough “to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person.” Examples include speeding, driving in the wrong lane, driving with faulty brakes or passing another vehicle when the driver’s view is obstructed by a hill or curve.

According to the police crash report, the driver in this case didn’t have the right-of-way, and both his and Dearing’s vision may have been obscured by stopped cars. But the crash didn’t involve any health issues, distractions or intoxication. Read More

Police are conducting a homicide investigation at The Villages at Falls Church (photo by Ed O’Carroll)

A man convicted of killing a woman at her Seven Corners condominium and setting her body on fire has been sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison.

A Fairfax County Circuit Court judge handed down two consecutive life sentences to Richard Montano, 48, today (Friday) after a jury convicted him last October of murdering Silvia “Kelly” Vaca Abacay on Aug. 10, 2022, the Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office announced.

At the time of the murder, Vaca Abacay and her husband were staying in a condominium in The Villages at Falls Church on Willston Place owned by Montano’s ex-girlfriend, who broke up with him that July, according to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.

“The extreme level of violence and complete disregard for human life demonstrated by Richard Montano is of a level rarely seen in Fairfax County,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano said. “The loss to Ms. Vaca Abacay’s family and loved ones is unimaginable. There is nothing that can undo her needless, senseless death, but as of today, the defendant will not be able to harm anyone else in our community.”

In the afternoon of Aug. 10, 2022, Montano “was lying in wait” in the apartment, presumably looking for his former girlfriend, but when he encountered Vaca Abacay instead, he stabbed her multiple times “and set her body on fire in an attempt to conceal the murder,” Descano’s office says.

According to a press release, prosecutors told the jury during last year’s trial that Montano was caught entering the condo by a neighbor’s home surveillance camera:

A neighbor’s Ring camera footage captured Montano entering the apartment without Ms. Via Rojas’ knowledge multiple times in the preceding month, including his last entry just 10 days before the murder occurred. The same neighbor called 911 four times the afternoon of August 10 after hearing screaming and banging from across the hall. The medical examiner determined that Ms. Vaca Abacay died from multiple sharp- and blunt force wounds before her body was set on fire.

Montano was arrested at his home in Arlington on Aug. 10, 2022. He initially also faced a burglary charge, but that was dropped at a preliminary hearing in the fall of 2022.

Descano’s office says the judge considered Montano’s apparent refusal to take responsibility for his actions, the premeditated nature of the murder and attempt to conceal his crime by setting the body on fire when determining the sentencing.

The charges of first-degree murder and arson of an occupied dwelling both carried potential life sentences.

Photo by Ed O’Carroll/Twitter

Police say Brandon Wims was shot multiple times while in a car at the Old Mill Gardens apartments in Mount Vernon (via Google Maps)

A Mount Vernon man has been convicted of second-degree murder for fatally shooting Brandon Wims outside the Old Mill Gardens apartments in 2022.

A Fairfax County Circuit Court jury returned a guilty verdict last night (Monday) against Kyjuan Trott-McLean, 44, convicting him of murder and a charge of using a firearm in the commission of a felony, Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano announced today.

“The extremely random nature of this crime is truly heartbreaking,” Descano said. “While one never fully heals from the loss of a loved one, especially in such an unexpected act of violence, I hope that this conviction can help provide solace to Mr. Wims’ family and the rest of our community.”

According to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, Trott-McLean shot Wims, a 31-year-old resident of Rockville, Maryland, in the 5800 block of St. Gregory Lane on Oct. 2, 2022 during an argument with his wife, an acquaintance of Wims:

Trott-McLean’s wife, Kezia Leckey, was an acquaintance of Wims, and the two met up that night, along with another friend of Leckey’s, Sapphire Lawrence. The three were sitting in Lawrence’s car talking at the time of the shooting.

At trial, prosecutors proved that the shooting stemmed from a dispute between Trott-McLean and Leckey. As Trott-McLean stood next to the vehicle and argued with Leckey, he stepped back from the vehicle, produced a 9mm firearm, and fired, striking Wims three times and grazing Leckey. He continued to fire as Lawrence, in the driver’s seat, sped off.

Lawrence drove Wims to Inova Mount Vernon Hospital. At the time, Fairfax County police said he was transferred to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where he died from his injuries.

Trott-McLean fled the scene and was able to evade law enforcement for nearly two months. Shortly after an $11,000 reward was offered for information, he was arrested in the 3800 block of Colonial Avenue in Mount Vernon on Dec. 1, 2022 after a brief police pursuit.

A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for May 3. Trott-McLean faces a maximum sentence of 43 years in prison.

Photo via Google Maps

Jaeyoung Lee was arrested in January 2018 for possessing child pornography (via FCPD)

A man already convicted of possessing child pornography has been sentenced to life in prison for shooting a fellow military veteran nearly seven years ago.

Jaeyoung Lee was sentenced to life, plus 48 years in prison for shooting Jeremy Tammone on Oct. 21, 2017, leaving him permanently injured, Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano announced Friday (Jan. 26).

Lee, who served in the U.S. Navy for seven years, waited outside Tammone’s apartment in the Franconia District and shot him three times after he answered the door, according to the commonwealth’s attorney’s office.

Tammone is a 50-year-old Army and Marine veteran who was working at that time as a Defense Department contractor, according to an NBC4 report. He was also a friend of a woman who had recently broken up with Lee.

According to prosecutors, Lee had spent months stalking his ex-girlfriend, including by “hacking her social media accounts to monitor her messages, installing cameras in her home, and making copies of her apartment door locks to practice unlocking them.”

Police quickly identified Lee as a suspect in Tammone’s shooting, per NBC4, but his arrest didn’t come until Jan. 9, 2018 after detectives found a device with child pornography images and videos during a search of Lee’s apartment in the “Alexandria section” of Fairfax County.

Initially charged with 20 counts of child porn possession, Lee was ultimately convicted on 100 counts in January 2020, according to Descano’s office. The conviction was appealed and sustained by a three-judge panel in July 2021.

In that case, Lee was sentenced on June 12, 2020 to a total of 20 years in prison — one year for each of the 100 charges, with 80 of them running concurrently instead of consecutively — but 15 years were suspended, giving him five years of active jail time, a spokesperson for the commonwealth’s attorney’s office says.

For the shooting, prosecutors pushed for a life sentence because they believe Lee’s “actions indicate that he remains a serious danger to the community,” Descano said. Lee was convicted of seven felonies in a May 2023 trial.

“Over a period of months, he planned and calculated, committing multiple felonies as he stalked his ex-girlfriend,” Descano said. “This period of dangerous obsession culminated in one of the worst possible outcomes: a victim’s life permanently destroyed.”

Tammone continues to suffer from the brain and organ damage he sustained from the shooting, which left him unable to eat or drink, NBC4 reported. He and his family told the news station that they felt Lee’s sentencing was an “appropriate close of…this horrific chapter” of their lives.

In addition to the life sentence for aggravated malicious wounding, Lee received three years for using a firearm in a felony, 20 years for malicious computer trespassing, 10 years for possessing burglary tools, and five years each for wiretapping and two counts of using a computer to obtain personal information, per Descano’s office.

“Individuals who pose this kind of danger receive sentences that first and foremost keep the community safe,” Descano said. “I’m grateful to the detectives and prosecutors who helped bring this case through to the end, and I hope that closing the book today brings a measure of justice the victims and their families.”

The commonwealth’s attorney’s office also announced a life-in-prison sentence on Friday for McLean resident Megan Hargan, who shot and killed her mother and sister on July 14, 2017.

Fairfax County Courthouse (file photo)

A McLean woman will serve two life sentences in prison for murdering her mother and sister in 2017, county prosecutors announced today (Friday).

Megan Hargan received the two life sentences for fatally shooting her mother, Pamela Hargan, 63, and Helen Hargan, 24, in their house on July 14, 2017. She also got an additional sentence of six years in prison for two gun-related charges, according to the Fairfax County Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Hargan was convicted by a jury in September of first-degree murder and use of a firearm in a felony. It was her second conviction after an initial one handed down in March 2022 got vacated by a judge who determined that a juror had improperly experimented with a rifle at home to see if Helen Hargan could’ve died by suicide, as defense attorneys alleged.

“Megan Hargan’s actions in July 2017 go beyond what most of us can imagine,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano said. “On a quiet Friday morning in her mother’s home, she made an irreversible decision — one that would devastate her family and tear the community apart. First-degree murder is the most serious offense you can be convicted of in Virginia, and today’s sentence reflects the gravity of the defendant’s crimes.”

After finding the bodies of Pamela and Helen Hargan inside their home in the 6700 block of Dean Drive, the Fairfax County Police Department initially characterized the deaths as a murder-suicide incident, but they suspected early on that the scene might have been staged.

Police and prosecutors later argued that Megan Hargan had killed her mother and sister over a financial disagreement.

More from the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney:

On the afternoon of July 14, 2017, Megan Hargan, 41, shot Pamela, 63, and Helen, 24, in Pamela’s McLean home where the three were living at the time, along with Hargan’s then-8-year-old daughter. Hargan staged the house as a murder-suicide and claimed that younger sister Helen had killed their mom before killing herself.

Evidence presented at trial showed that the conflict stemmed from a financial dispute: Megan, who was buying a house in West Virginia, resented that her mother, Pamela, wasn’t helping her financially but was at the same time helping her sister Helen to buy a house. On July 13, the day before the killings, Megan attempted to transfer upwards of $400,000 from her mother’s bank account to pay for Megan’s new house, which was closing that day. The transaction was flagged as fraud, and the next day Megan shot her mother before attempting to make the same wire transfer again from her mother’s account. She then shot her sister Helen, who was upstairs at the time. Both family members were killed by a .22 rifle, which belonged to Megan’s husband and was being stored in the McLean house temporarily.

Megan Hargan was arrested on Nov. 9, 2018.

“This was a complicated case to prosecute, and we would not be here today without the detectives, witnesses, and family members who persisted through two lengthy, emotional trials,” Descano said. “I want to express my gratitude for their resolve in bringing this case to justice.”

Sen. Tim Kaine and Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano talk at Mackenzie’s Tunes and Tonics for a press conference on the county’s Taking Root diversion program (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Instead of jail-time, a restaurant job could be waiting for some individuals facing non-violent criminal charges in Fairfax County if they finish a newly launched job training program.

The Pathfinder Kitchen initiative unveiled Monday (Jan. 8) by the Fairfax County Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney builds on the office’s nascent Taking Root diversion program, which offers case management, mental health and substance use assessments, affordable housing and other services to people accused of non-violent crimes in lieu of incarceration.

Starting this spring, participants will get an opportunity to learn culinary skills at Mackenzie’s Tunes and Tonics, which opened in Fairfax City last June, and earn the certification needed to work in the food service industry.

Like the county’s other diversion programs, Taking Root and its new culinary training option are designed to address the underlying causes of crime — in this case, poverty and barriers to employment — so individuals who’ve entered the criminal justice system are less likely to return.

“Pathfinder Kitchen is actually the next generation of that, actually getting people into restaurant training with certificates so they can get a job and build a career,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano said. “That’s really, really important for public safety. It’s also the right thing to do.”

Launched in April 2022 by the prosecutors’ office and the nonprofit Opportunities, Alternatives & Resources (OAR), Taking Root focuses on people charged with a non-violent offense who are experiencing an “underlying issue,” such as poverty or drug addiction, that could be eased with treatment or social services.

Descano says his office doesn’t have “hard and fast” eligibility rules for determining who to recommend for the program, but most participants are on their first or second time in the court system, and their diversion plan must be approved by a judge.

So far, 100 people have been referred to Taking Root, and 20 of them have graduated — a milestone that the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, OAR and other supporters, including Sen. Tim Kaine, celebrated at Mackenzie’s (3950 University Drive, Suite 210) on Monday.

According to Descano, the idea for Pathfinder Kitchen was developed with Mackenzie’s owner Josh Alexander, who also chairs the Old Town Fairfax Business Association (OTFBA) board of directors.

“He was telling us about the need to get more people into the restaurant business, into the industry, and we just started to…have this dialogue and said, ‘Hey, we have a crop of people who [could help], if you’re willing to give people second chances’…and they were very receptive,” Descano recalled.

Also supported by the nonprofit Britepaths, which provides supportive services, the pilot program is funded by a Fairfax City grant, and graduates who get their ServSafe certification will be placed in jobs with participating restaurants, all of which are currently in the city.

Reflecting on Taking Root’s first full year of operations, OAR Diversion Program Manager Lula Kelly said the ability to work with each participant based on their specific needs is key to the program’s success. Read More

Fairfax County voters went to the polls today for the 2023 general election (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 12:35 a.m. on 11/8/2023) The Democratic Party’s hold in Fairfax County remains strong, despite Republican efforts to make headway by centering issues from high taxes and “parental rights” in public education to highway tolls.

Preliminary general election results show that candidates supported by the Democrats, either officially or through endorsements, are in line to win every seat on this year’s lengthy ballot — except for Springfield District supervisor.

Seeking a fifth term on the Board of Supervisors, incumbent Pat Herrity is beating Democratic challenger Albert Vega by roughly 14 percentage points, or around 5,000 votes, as of 10:30 p.m. That would be a more comfortable victory than the one Herrity had in 2019, when he edged out Linda Sperling by just 439 votes.

If the current results hold, Herrity will once again be the only Republican on the 10-seat Board of Supervisors, and all 12 Fairfax County School Board seats, along with the county’s entire General Assembly delegation, will be held by Democrats.

Sheriff Stacey Kincaid and Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano are on track for reelection, though about 22% of the ballots cast for the county’s top prosecutor are write-ins. While the results don’t show the names that voters put forward, a write-in campaign for Ed Nuttall — Descano’s opponent in the June Democratic primary — got endorsed by him and the Fairfax County Republican Committee.

In addition, Democrat Chris Falcon, currently the deputy court clerk in Arlington, won the circuit court clerk race with 62% of the vote, even after Republican Gerarda Culipher got endorsed by current Clerk John Frey, who’s retiring after 32 years.

The three open seats on the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District‘s five-person board of directors will also go to candidates endorsed by the Democrats. Voters also approved a $435 million school bond referendum that will fund construction and renovation projects and the installation of security vestibules.

With nearly all precincts reporting, here are the apparent winners of this year’s general election:

Board of Supervisors

  • Chairman: Jeff McKay
  • Braddock District: James Walkinshaw
  • Dranesville District: Jimmy Bierman
  • Franconia District: Rodney Lusk
  • Hunter Mill District: Walter Alcorn
  • Mason District: Andres Jimenez
  • Mount Vernon District: Dan Storck
  • Providence District: Dalia Palchik
  • Springfield District: Pat Herrity
  • Sully District: Kathy Smith

School Board

  • At Large: Ilryong Moon, Ryan McElveen, Kyle McDaniel
  • Braddock District: Rachna Sizemore Heizer
  • Dranesville District: Robyn Lady
  • Franconia District: Marcia St. John-Cunning
  • Hunter Mill District: Melanie Meren
  • Mason District: Ricardy Anderson
  • Mount Vernon District: Mateo Dunne
  • Providence District: Karl Frisch
  • Springfield District: Sandra Anderson
  • Sully District: Seema Dixit

Read More

Voting in the 2023 general election begins tomorrow (file photo)

(Updated at 2:25 p.m. on 11/7/2023) Early voting is over, and Election Day 2023 is less than 24 hours away.

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. tomorrow (Tuesday). Virginia now allows same-day registration, though those voters will cast provisional ballots that are counted and validated later by the Fairfax County Electoral Board.

Mail ballots can be placed at dropboxes at all polling sites throughout the day. They can also still be sent to the Fairfax County Office of Elections (12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 323) but must arrive by noon on Monday, Nov. 13 to be counted. In addition, the voter’s year of birth and the last four digits of their social security number needs to be written on the return envelope in lieu of the previously required witness signature.

As of last Wednesday (Nov. 1), almost 9% of registered voters had voted early in person or returned a mail ballot, amounting to about 64,000 votes, according to Fairfax County election officials. Last time this election cycle came around in 2019, there were 36,584 absentee votes total and an overall 44.3% turnout.

This year’s general election is focused on local and state offices, with every Board of Supervisors, school board and General Assembly seat up for grabs. Vienna is also holding mayoral and town council elections in November for the first time.

Board of Supervisors


McKay, the incumbent, was elected in 2019 after serving as supervisor of the Franconia District — then known as Lee District — since 2008. Citing mental health services and pedestrian safety among his top priorities this year, he faces a challenge from Purves, president of the Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance and a frequent critic of the county’s taxation and spending practices.

Braddock District

No Republican candidates came forward to challenge Walkinshaw, who also didn’t get pulled into the Democratic primary in June. Chief of staff for Rep. Gerry Connolly before getting elected in 2019, he is once again facing off with independent Carey Chet Campbell, a Green Party member who’s now on his sixth campaign for Braddock District supervisor.

Dranesville District

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust, who’s retiring after four terms in office, has endorsed Bierman as his successor. The McLean resident and former Dranesville District Democratic Committee chair has identified diversifying the local economy, addressing climate change and creating “viable transportation options” as his top priorities.

Bierman is squaring off with a Livingtston Group lobbyist and former Fairfax County Republican Committee first vice chairman. Calling politicians “out of touch” and “out of control” on his website, Ahluwalia lists his key issues as property taxes, public safety, education, recreation and the pay raise approved earlier this year for the incoming board.

Franconia District

When he launched his reelection bid last year, Lusk told FFXnow that he hopes to continue championing affordable housing, full funding for schools, bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements and criminal justice reform.

Affordable housing is also a priority for Beran, who says he founded the advertising company Advertel. Per his campaign website, the Republican candidate is also focused on public safety, education and creating a “Great American Walk of Fame” to honor war heroes, first responders, historic figures and others along Richmond Highway, among other issues.

Welch, a longtime Springvale resident and former federal government employee, told On the MoVe that his priorities, if elected, would be “keeping the tax rate stable, improving public safety and focusing education dollars for the classroom.” Read More


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