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Robbery tied to recent Louisa County drug bust, judge’s bail decision reversed by colleague

Posted on Tuesday, May 29, 2018 at 5:00 am

A judge denied bail to a woman charged with robbery and assault after hearing an allegation that she is connected to a recent drug bust.

The victim is the girlfriend of one of five people arrested last month in a drug operation at a house in the 1500 block of Wickham Road that netted about $100,000 in illegal drugs and firearms, according to Rusty McGuire, Louisa County Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Sammi Corey, 30, of Bumpass, had been granted bail by Judge Claiborne Stokes on May 17 in Louisa General District Court. But McGuire appealed the next day to Circuit Court Judge John Cullen, who reversed the decision.

Corey and an alleged accomplice, Daquan Carter, 27, of Louisa, were charged May 21 with obstruction of justice involving a drug offense.

McGuire said in court that Corey robbed the victim of her phone on May 2 based on the belief that the phone contained information about a drug case. After the victim filed a complaint, the phone was recovered by the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office.

Cullen also refused bail last week for Joshua Hicks, 18, who was arrested in the drug bust on April 4 and is charged with distribution. Cullen is handling the case because Chief Judge Timothy Sanner recused himself, saying he had an issue in the past with a bill paid to Rollin Wheels, the Mineral mechanic’s shop. The business is owned by Hicks’ grandfather, who also owns the house where the drug bust occurred.

Two other Louisa residents arrested on April 4, Joanna McDonald, 37, and Jeremiah Williams, 24, were permitted in district court last week to enter a drug treatment program in Culpeper. A fifth suspect, Stephanie Knighton, who was arrested later, was granted bail on April 26.

The alleged leader of the drug ring, Robert Murray, of Doswell, remains behind bars. McGuire said McDonald was in charge of distributing the drugs after Murray brought them to the area from Georgia.

The drugs seized during an early-morning raid on the Wickham Road home included a pound of crystal methamphetamine, as well as bags of two types of pills, marijuana, guns and cash. The meth was worth at least $30,000, a significant quantity, McGuire said.

Graven Craig, Hicks’ attorney, said in court that his client lived on the house’s first floor and was not involved in the drug dealing going on in the basement, though a small amount of meth was found in his pocket. There were 10 people living in the house, some of them renting space from Hicks.

The house “was receiving more business than a convenience store” prior to the police raid, McGuire said. “Cars were stopping regularly even though it’s off the beaten path.”

As police entered the house, there were signs drugs were being flushed down the toilet in Hicks’ bathroom, McGuire said.

Craig questioned why Hicks shouldn’t get bail when Knighton, who faces similar charges, was granted it. McGuire said Hicks tried to remove evidence of his drug activity when he contacted his grandfather from Central Virginia Regional Jail and asked him to remove a data card from his phone. There were personal photos on the phone Hicks didn’t want anyone to see, Craig said.

The altercation involving Corey began on May 2 when she answered a call at her house in the 800 block of Greenes Corner Road from Jeremiah Williams. Williams was calling from jail and looking for his girlfriend, who McGuire said had gone to Corey’s house to live after the drug bust.

Moments later, a man at Corey’s house, who McGuire said was Carter, took the phone and accused Williams of being an informant, McGuire said. It was a few minutes later when Williams’ girlfriend arrived to pick up her two dogs.

Corey “ripped the phone from” the girlfriend’s hands, hit her in the face several times and threatened her, the prosecutor said. McGuire said Hicks’ girlfriend may have also been present.

The alleged victim broke into Corey’s house, Ryan Rakness, her attorney, said. He dismissed the victim as a “compromised witness.”

District court Judge Claiborne Stokes said the nature of the robbery and assault, which did not involve a weapon, was the most important factor in a bond hearing. In addition, he said, it was unclear what Corey’s role was in the drug case. He granted Corey a $20,000 secured bond.

Cullen reversed Stokes’ ruling without comment. In Hicks’ case, Cullen cited the quantity of drugs involved and the potential penalty for drug dealing as the basis for his ruling.

Most of the drug case defendants are scheduled to appear again in district court on June 19, except Williams, who won’t return until Sept. 18. Corey is scheduled to appear in court next on June 28. Carter was scheduled to be in court on May 24.