Former Va. governor due in court for dismissal hearing

Former Virginia  Gov. Bob McDonnell

Former Virginia
Gov. Bob McDonnell

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife are due in federal court for a hearing on whether to dismiss most of the corruption charges filed against them.

Judge James R. Spencer will also hear arguments Monday on whether McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, should receive separate trials. Prosecutors oppose separating the cases.

The Republican former governor and his wife are charged in a 14-count indictment with accepting more than $165,000 from Jonnie Williams, the former CEO of dietary supplements maker Star Scientific Inc., in exchange for helping promote his products. They have pleaded not guilty. A jury trial that is expected to last at least five weeks is scheduled to begin in late July.

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Around 30,000 guests expected for Virginia Tech graduation

Virginia-Tech-LogoBLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) _ About 5,000 students are set to receive diplomas at Virginia Tech’s spring commencement. Gov. Terry McAuliffe is the keynote speaker for the main ceremony Friday morning at Lane Stadium.

The graduate school commencement will follow at Cassell Coliseum. Twenty-eight college and departmental ceremonies are set for later Friday and Saturday.

The university expects about 30,000 guests for the festivities.

Virginia Tech President Charles Steger will preside over the Blacksburg ceremonies for the last time. He is retiring effective May 31.

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McAuliffe to be briefed on train cleanup

Train-Fire-thumbRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Gov. Terry McAuliffe is set to meet with responders from last week’s Lynchburg train derailment.

The governor is traveling to Lynchburg this morning to thank officials for their work and receive a briefing regarding ongoing cleanup efforts.

Federal investigators are trying to determine what caused the 17-car derailment of a CSX train carrying Bakken crude from North Dakota.

Three of the cars plunged into the James River and one caught fire, briefly causing parts of downtown to be evacuated.

The Department of Transportation issued an emergency order Wednesday requiring that railroads inform state officials about the movement of large shipments of crude oil through their states and urged shippers not to use older model tanks cars that are easily ruptured in accidents.

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Most new Liberty graduates took at least some courses on-line



About 34,000 people are expected for tomorrow’s commencement ceremony at Liberty University’s Williams Stadium. More than 85% of Liberty’s newest graduating class took at least some courses online. The school’s director of online admissions, Steve Peterson, says its not just far-flung students who use distance learning. WLNI’s Gene Marrano has more:

05-09 Liberty Wrap#1-WEB

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Bedford County Sheriff’s office investigates “numerous burglaries” of storage units

bedford sheriffsFrom the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office: Investigators are investigating numerous burglaries of storage units that have occurred since January 2014. Suspect(s) are gaining entry into a single unit and are then able to access adjoining units. After gaining entrance, suspect(s) are stealing various items (jewelry, silverware, dinnerware, etc.). Storage units located in Moneta, Thaxton, New London and Forest have all been victimized.

Anyone with information on these crimes is asked to call the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office 540-586-7699 or Central Virginia Crime Stoppers at 1-888-798-5900. Crime Stoppers caller remain anonymous and could receive cash reward at to $1,000.00 for information that solves the crimes.

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Jury begins deliberations in missing Va. teen case

Randy Taylor (FBI photo)

Randy Taylor
(FBI photo)

LOVINGSTON, Va. (AP) _ A Nelson County jury has begun deliberations in the trial of a man charged with murdering a missing teenager. Prosecutors wrapped up their case against Randy Taylor on Wednesday morning. The defense rested after calling five witnesses. Jurors went home Wednesday evening and resume deliberations Thursday morning.

The 48-year-old Taylor is charged with first-degree murder and abduction with intent to defile. The body of 17-year-old Alexis Murphy hasn’t been found.

In closing arguments, prosecutor Anthony Martin told the jury: “Don’t let evil triumph in this courtroom.” Defense attorney Michael Hallahan argued there wasn’t enough evidence for a conviction.

Murphy disappeared last August. She was last seen at a gas station in Lovingston. Authorities found her car several days later in an Albemarle County parking lot.

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DMV adds automated sign language as test option



RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Hearing-impaired Virginians can now take their knowledge-based driver’s license exam on an automated testing system using American sign language.

The Department of Motor Vehicles says sign language was added to its new testing system, called SecuriTest, earlier this month. It’s one of 16 languages offered to license applicants. The web-based application reduces the need for translators to assist applicants in the testing process.

The DMV says sign language is the first language for many hearing-impaired people, so offering that option instead of just having them read the questions allows them to receive the information in the language they prefer.

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Group names Virginia’s top school superintendent

Dr. Pat Murphy

Dr. Pat Murphy
Arlington Public Schools

ROANOKE, Va. (AP) _ Arlington County’s chief if schools has been named Virginia’s Superintendent of the Year. Patrick K. Murphy picked up the award at the superintendents’ annual awards banquet Tuesday evening in Roanoke. The Virginia Association of School Superintendents says Murphy was one of eight regional finalists for the award, including Botetourt County Schools Superintendent Tony Brads.

Murphy has served as Arlington County’s superintendent since 2009. The association says he has significantly reduced the drop-out rate and increased advanced academic program completions by students. Murphy will represent the state in the National Superintendent of the Year competition in February 2015.

(WLNI staff contributed to this report.)

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Naturalization ceremony set at Va. State Capitol

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Forty-four immigrants from 32 countries are expected to take the oath of United States citizenship at the Virginia State Capitol.

The clerks of the Virginia Senate and the House of Delegates have announced that the naturalization ceremony is set for 11 a.m. Friday in the House chamber. They say it is fitting that the ceremony will take place in the home of the oldest elected law-making body in the Western Hemisphere.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Hannah Lauck will preside and deliver remarks on the meaning of U.S. citizenship.

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New, more advanced Va. travel guide available

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ A new and more high-tech Virginia travel guide is now available. The Virginia Tourism Corporation says that for the first time, the guide is available for download through three leading app stores — Apple iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon. It also can be found on the corporation’s website.

The corporation says the digital edition includes features like animation, sound, more than 1,000 hotlinks to external resources, and 17 videos about Virginia. Travelers who still like to do their vacation planning the old-fashioned way can order a print copy of the guide. The print and online copies can both be found at

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