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Melvin Abbitt found guilty of Malicious Wounding and other Felonies

September 15, 2006

For Immediate Release

Lynchburg, Virginia


On September 12, 2006 a Lynchburg Circuit Court jury found 22-year old Melvin Devon Abbitt guilty of four felony offenses: Malicious Wounding, Use of a Firearm in a Felony, Shooting from a Vehicle, and Unlawfully Shooting at an Occupied Building. The jury recommended that the defendant serve a 28-year penitentiary sentence for his crimes. Judge Mosby Perrow ordered that the defendant remain in jail with no bond pending his formal sentencing hearing scheduled for November 17, 2006 at 9:30 a.m.

The facts of the case revealed that on Monday, March 27, 2006 at approximately 2:30 p.m., the defendant and four others participated in a drive-by shooting during which at least 17 shots were fired in the Greenfield Market parking lot. As a result of the shooting, 18-year old Nymar Thomas was shot in the leg and a bullet was fired into the residence located at 125 Bright Star Court. Eyewitnesses at the scene of the shooting identified the defendant as being one of four shooters. The defendant and the other shooters were seen leaving the scene in a maroon colored Nissan Altima. Lynchburg Police were called to the scene and quickly located the drive-by vehicle abandoned on Tyree Street. Police found two shell casings lying on the ground beside the vehicle.

Police were given information that the defendant was seen just after the shooting hiding out at a house only three blocks away from the location of where the drive-by vehicle was recovered. A witness testified at trial that she picked the defendant up only 30 minutes after the shooting in the area of where the drive-by vehicle was recovered and drove the defendant across town.

Two days after the shooting, the defendant was arrested and during a search of the defendant's person police recovered a loaded 9mm firearm. Police sent the empty shell casings found at the scene of the shooting and the shell casings found where the vehicle was recovered along with the firearm taken from the defendant to the Department of Forensic Science in Roanoke for analysis. A firearm's expert testified at trial that he was able to match 9 of the shell casings to the gun that was taken from the defendant.

Lead investigator Tony Martin testified at trial that when he interviewed the defendant after the defendant's arrest that the defendant was unable to give a clear explanation as to his whereabouts at the time of the shooting.

The final piece of evidence introduced at trial was a letter written by the defendant one month prior to the trial date. In this letter, the defendant wrote that he needed his friends to prevent all the eyewitnesses from testifying against him at trial. The defendant wrote, "if an eyewitness show up and point me out, I'm gone - they gone throw away the key".

During the sentencing phase of the hearing, evidence was introduced regarding the defendant's activity in local gang activity. Jurors were shown photographs of the defendant's tattoos and heard testimony from Investigator Randy Trent regarding the defendant's involvement with the "16th Street" gang.

This case was prosecuted by Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Chuck Felmlee.