RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ A state report shows about one fifth of the people going to Virginia’s Department of Motor Vehicles customer service centers are doing so unnecessarily, costing them a $5 fee and increasing wait times for all customers. A report by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission issued Tuesday found 866,000 customers went to the DMV is fiscal 2014 for services that could have been done online, over the phone or by mail. According to the report, nearly all of those people who went to the DMV were for vehicle registration renewals. The report also found that DMV customer service centers in heavily populated Northern Virginia have longer wait times than the rest of the state. In Arlington the average wait time is 47 minutes, compared to 24 minutes statewide.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia residents are running out of time to register to vote in the Nov. 3 general election. Tuesday is the voter registration deadline. The Virginia Department of Elections says eligible Virginians can register to vote online here. The online system also can be used to check registration status and update voter information. The online system requires a resident’s Virginia Department of Vehicles information for authentication. Voters who don’t have a DMV identification can use the system to provide their information and print a completed registration form, which can be sent to their local voter registration office. Residents also can register to vote in-person at their local voter registration office by 5 p.m. on Tuesday.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Officials say deaths in Virginia from heroin and opioid use outnumbered highway fatalities for the first time last year. Multiple media outlets report that in 2014, 728 Virginians died from drug overdoses. That same year, there were 700 highway fatalities. Highway deaths have been dropping as drug deaths increase. The highway death toll in 2013 was 741 compared with 661 from drugs. In 2009, there were 750 traffic fatalities compared with 504 deaths from heroin and opioids. The increase in drug-related deaths comes despite heightened efforts to attack heroin use in the state, a focus that was announced a year ago by Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring. Herring said last week that he hopes the new statistics help officials realize how urgently solutions are needed to solve the heroin epidemic.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell is asking an appeals court to suspend her case while the U.S. Supreme Court considers whether to review her husband’s public corruption convictions. Maureen McDonnell’s attorneys filed a motion Wednesday with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court issued an order in August saying former Gov. Bob McDonnell could remain out of jail while the high court decides whether to review his case. The McDonnells were convicted last year of doing favors for a former vitamin executive in exchange for more than $165,000 in gifts and loans. Both have been sentenced to prison but remain free on appeal. In its motion Wednesday, lawyers for Maureen McDonnell indicated that prosecutors oppose the request to suspend her case.
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (AP) _ A Martinsville man is missing after he fell from a canoe into the Smith River. Multiple media outlets report that 30-year-old Joseph Sink Jr. and another man were in a canoe that overturned south of Martinsville on Tuesday evening. Henry County public safety director Matt Tatum says the other man was able to get to the riverbank. He ran into a passerby and called 911. Rescue crews planned to resume the search for Sink on Wednesday morning.
UPDATE: The U.S. Supreme Court has denied the appeal — with no written explanation. It was among a list of hundreds of cases that were similarly rejected.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) _ The U.S. Supreme Court is due to decide whether to hear the case of a former University of Virginia lacrosse player convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend. The Daily Progress of Charlottesville reports (http://bit.ly/1LdlZMz ) that the Supreme Court will review a petition Monday that defense attorneys for 27-year-old George Huguely V filed in June. Huguely, of Chevy Chase, Maryland, is serving a 23-year sentence in Virginia. He was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of 22-year-old Yeardley Love in 2010. Love, from suburban Baltimore, was a member of the women’s lacrosse team at U.Va. The petition says Huguely was denied counsel when one of his attorneys fell ill during his trial and the judge agreed to proceed despite his objections. The Court of Appeals of Virginia affirmed Huguely’s conviction in 2014.
The Virginia National Guard plans to have up to 800 personnel in place by Friday night to respond to storm-related events. Staging areas will be in Hampton Roads, central and southwest Virginia and in the Shenandoah Valley. Deputy director of joint operations Lt. Col. Douglas Gagnon says personnel must be in place before the severe weather hit to allow for a rapid response when needed. He says among the tasks the Guard is prepared to handle include tree and debris removal and transporting flood victims to safety. The Virginia National Guard was last on state active duty in February and March responding to heavy snow and flooding.
BEDFORD, Va. (AP) _ A convicted sex offender charged with murder in the disappearance of two sisters from a suburban Maryland mall in 1975 is set to make his initial appearance in a Virginia court. Lloyd Lee Michael Welch Jr. is scheduled to appear at a state court in Bedford on Thursday. Welch is charged in connection with the disappearance of 12-year-old Sheila Lyon and 10-year-old Katharine Lyon. The sisters were walking from their house to the Wheaton Plaza Mall. The girls never came home, and no bodies were found. Authorities say Welch was at the mall the day the girls vanished and was seen paying attention to them. Welch had been serving a lengthy prison term in Delaware, but officials said Wednesday that he’s been transferred to the Amherst County Adult Detention Center.
FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) _ A former girlfriend of Jesse Matthew says that he was raped as a child and that it played a key role in allegations that he raped and killed multiple women. Matthew is awaiting trial in the killings of college students Hannah Graham and Morgan Harrington. Earlier this year, Matthew was convicted in Fairfax County of sexual assault for an attack on a woman in 2005. He will be sentenced Friday in that case and could get life in prison. In a letter to the judge made public Tuesday, the girlfriend, whose full name was not included in the letter, said Matthew was sexually abused by at least three different people. In another letter, Matthew’s mother begged for mercy and said her son “has always shown respect to everyone around him.”
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Twelve Virginia schools are being honored by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Each has been named a National Blue Ribbon school, signifying academic rigor and dramatic gains in student achievement. Seven public schools and five private schools are being recognized. The public schools are Central High School in Woodstock, Cosby High in Midlothian, Crystal Spring Elementary in Roanoke, Great Neck Middle School in Virginia Beach, Patrick Henry Elementary in Arlington, Riverheads High in Staunton and Snow Creek Elementary in Penhook. The private schools are Christ the King Catholic School in Norfolk, Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, Our Lady of Hope Catholic School in Potomac Falls, St. Mark Catholic School in Vienna and Trinity Lutheran School in Newport News. They’ll be recognized at a ceremony in November in Washington, D.C.