Wiseley defeats Logan
Incumbent Amanda McDonald Wiseley turned back a strong challenge Tuesday from Republican Chad Logan in unofficial returns in the race for commonwealth’s attorney in Shenandoah County.
With 13 of 13 precincts reporting, Wiseley had 52 percent of the vote to Logan’s 48 percent.
Wiseley, an independent, won her second term. Logan, an assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Rockingham County, ran with the support of the county Republican party, which he headed until stepping down recently.
Wiseley, a former defense attorney in Strasburg, was easily elected in 2011 when she carried every precinct in the county on her way to defeating Republican candidate Jeremy McCleary.
This year’s campaign turned heated in the closing weeks as Logan criticized Wiseley for what he considered an unacceptably low conviction rate among the thousands of felonies her office has prosecuted since 2012.
Wiseley touted the number of felony indictments issued by grand juries during her tenure. She said the 1,127 indictments in 2014 and a similar number in 2013 marked sharp increases from her predecessor.
She also cited her prosecution of six homicides, several of which are still pending in court, since she became commonwealth’s attorney.
Logan said Wiseley should have obtained a trial date by now in the capital murder case of Claude Shafer Jr., a defendant who has spent much of the year in Central State Hospital receiving treatment to restore his mental competency and whose inability to obtain certain medication in the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail has continued to be an issue in court hearings.
Shafer is the second of two defendants who faced the possibility of the death penalty under capital murder charges filed by Wiseley. The first, Nicole Miller, eventually pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to 50 years in prison for killing the 20-month-old son of her former fiancé.
Shenandoah County, like other rural parts of Virginia, has been struggling in recent years with a surge in heroin use and the crimes that come with it. Wiseley said during the campaign that she planned to turn part of her attention to dampening a comeback by methamphetamine, which has been the target of recent law enforcement investigations.
Logan has been a prosecutor in Rockingham County for 4 ½ years, a few months more than Wiseley has been prosecutor. But Wiseley, who was a defense attorney before becoming commonwealth’s attorney, argued she had many more years of overall experience practicing law in the criminal justice system.
Logan was endorsed by his boss, Marsha Garst, the commonwealth’s attorney in Rockingham County, but Wiseley contended her opponent was inexperienced and had never prosecuted a homicide in Rockingham County.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org