Special prosecutor: Details of probe likely to be released by end of month
By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- A special prosecutor said Friday she expects to release her report investigating part of a 1994 murder case by the end of this month.
Jeffrey Washington remains in prison serving a 70-year sentence for the shooting death of Carlos Marshall Jr. in the city. Washington's father, Franklin Washington, continues to question evidence used to convict his son of first-degree murder in 1995. The father filed a complaint with Winchester authorities in 2010 alleging a court reporter assigned to transcribe proceedings of a preliminary hearing in his son's case altered the transcripts to omit the name of a potential witness present to the murder identified in the defense attorneys' notes.
Earlier on Friday, members of the Justice Coalition, including the elder Washington, called on Orange County Commonwealth's Attorney Diana Wheeler and chief prosecutor for Winchester, Alex Iden, to release the report if it exists.
A coalition organizer, Larry Yates, said the group called the press conference because members "feel the two commonwealth's attorneys have kinda been playing hide-and-seek with an important justice matter, and it's not right."
Wheeler stated by email Friday she completed her review of findings by a state police special agent in December, but has not yet completed the written report of the investigation.
"The reason I have not yet completed my report is due to the depth and breadth of the Virginia State Police's investigation and my heavy work schedule which has not permitted me the uninterrupted hours to complete it," the email states. "I anticipate completing my report by the end of January, and plan to send it to the Court and to the Commonwealth's Attorney for Winchester."
Iden asked Wheeler to investigate the elder Washington's allegations, and she enlisted the aid of a special agent with the state police in the summer of 2010. As Wheeler explained in November, the investigation had neared its end and a report of the findings would be forthcoming and filed. Wheeler offered a copy of the report to the Daily. At that time, Wheeler told the Daily she saw no reason to reopen any aspect of the case. She and the state police essentially investigated the entire case, re-interviewing witnesses and looking at evidence, she said.
At the press event, Franklin Washington said his son's attorneys' notes listed a fifth person in the apartment where the slaying occurred. That name does not come up during testimony given by another witness at a preliminary hearing held in the murder case, Washington said.
The Justice Coalition extended its allegations to Iden who, by phone on Friday, said he had not seen any report related to Wheeler's investigation.
"There's no requirement that she write a report and there's no requirement that she send it to me, and I do not have one," Iden said. "It certainly is of public interest, and I can't imagine what restriction there should be in the public access to it. But I don't have it, and I'd love to read it."