$520,163 for Covington man wrongfully imprisoned 11 years

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The General Assembly has approved more than $520,000 in compensation for Gary Linwood Bush, who served almost 11 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of two bank robberies. On Wednesday, the House unanimously joined the Senate in passing legislation to set aside $520,163 for Bush, who was cleared of the crimes last May. SB 1477 also allows Bush to receive up to $10,000 in career and technical training from the Virginia Community College System. In a telephone interview with Capital News Service, Bush, 69, said the money could not make up for the decade he spent in prison for crimes he did not commit. “It’ll never be enough,” said Bush, who resides in Covington in the western part of Virginia.

After two banks were robbed in 2006 in Petersburg and Prince George County, four eyewitnesses picked Bush out of a photo lineup and identified him as the perpetrator. Bush had an alibi, and no physical evidence linked him to the bank robberies. Nevertheless, Bush was found guilty on both accounts in 2007 and sentenced to 12 years in prison. In 2016, Christian Amos came forward and confessed to police that he had robbed the two banks. Amos provided telling details, and his handwriting matched the note used in one of the robberies, authorities said. As a result, the Virginia Court of Appeals last year granted Bush two writs of actual innocence. By that point, he had spent almost 11 years of his 12-year sentence in the Virginia Department of Corrections.

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Search is underway for missing 83-year-old woman

Lina Toot (BCSO photo)

From the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office: At 1:35 p.m. today, Bedford County 911 received a call reporting Lina Toot, a 83 year old female missing from Toot Boulevard in Moneta. The caller stated that when he arrived at the home the door was standing open. He also said the woman lives alone and she was last seen at 8:00 p.m. last night. She is a white female, 5’ 3”, 113 lbs. and has gray hair. Bedford County Sheriff’s deputies, a K-9 from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office along with volunteers from Bedford County fire and rescue are on the scene searching at this time. Anyone with information on her possible whereabouts is asked to call 911 or 586-7827.

Virginia Republicans invite Fairfax’s accusers to testify

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia House Republicans have announced plans to hold a meeting where Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and the two women who have accused him of sexual assault can testify. Republican Del. Rob Bell said Friday that the House Courts of Justice Committee plans to invite Vanessa Tyson, Meredith Watson and Fairfax for a “chance to be heard” at an unnamed future hearing date. The two women have recently come forward with allegations that Fairfax, a Democrat, sexually assaulted them years ago. Both women have criticized the General Assembly’s handling of their allegations. Fairfax has denied both accusations and said the matters should be investigated by law enforcement authorities. Friday’s announcement is likely to set off a fierce partisan brawl, as Democrats have strongly resisted calls for the General Assembly to investigate.

The Friday Morning Richmond Roundup

Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance photo

Chris Faraldi breaks down the final week of this General Assembly Session and how it affects our region.

Chris Faraldi (022219)

Expert: Jussie Smollett case demonstrates false report dangers

An area criminal justice expert says there’s a good reason filing a false police report is a criminal offense — and the Jussie Smollett charges provide one very public example. Tod Burke is a former police officer, whose past college teaching experience includes Radford University. He says any time someone files a bogus police report, it misuses valuable law enforcement resources. And when the person is well-known, it’s even worse. He spoke with WLNI’s Evan Jones:

02-22 Burke-Smolett Wrap-WLNI-WEB

Jussie Smollett has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and his lawyer says the “Empire” star “enjoys the presumption of innocence.”

UPDATE: Girl’s false kidnapping report heads to juvenile court

Updated February 21 from the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office: This case was referred to the Bedford County Juvenile Court Service Unit for disposition. Due to the fact this case involves a juvenile the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office will have no further comments.

Previous: Authorities in Bedford County have determined a reported attempted kidnapping was made-up. Investigators say after reviewing surveillance footage and talking with the alleged victim and her family they determined that the report of two men in a white van allegedly trying to kidnap an 11-year-old girl while riding her bike Friday on Hales Ford Road was fabricated.

From Bedford County Sheriff’s Office on 02/15/19 — At 5:00 p.m. today, Bedford County 911 received a call from Hales Ford Road. The caller reported that two white males had attempted to kidnap his 11 year old daughter. The caller stated that his daughter was riding her bike when two men in a white two door car pulled up behind her. The passenger of the white car got out of the vehicle and grabbed the girl and her bike. He then threw her and her bike in the back seat of the car. The car then pulled away and traveled approximately 100 yards. The victim yelled that if they didn’t let her out of the vehicle she was calling the police on her cell phone. The men stopped the car pulled her and her bike out of the car and sped off. She then ran into the woods and called her father and told him what had happened.

The victim describes the car as a white two door sedan with white hubcaps. The center of the hubcaps has a red stripe going down the center. The steering wheel of the car had a red cover on it. No further description.

The driver of the car was a white male wearing blue jeans and a green shirt. She stated he appeared to be in his late 20’s or early 30’s. No further description.

The passenger was also a white male and appeared to be in his late 20’s or early 30’s. He was wearing black gloves, blue jeans, a blue shirt and had blond hair. His hair was short on the sides and long on top. She also said one of his eyebrows appeared to be shaved off. No further description.

Anyone with information on this crime or possible suspects are please asked to call the  Bedford County Sheriff’s Office at 540-586-7827 or Central Virginia Crime Stoppers at 1-888-798-5900 or go online to http://cvcrimestoppers.org. Enter your tip online at http://p3tips.com or use the P3TIPS app on your mobile device. Crime Stopper callers remain anonymous and could receive a cash reward up to $1,000.00.