Man pleads guilty to 2014 murder
WOODSTOCK – A Strasburg man faces prison time for shooting and killing a Maryland resident at a town hotel in 2014.
Lucas Scott Ward, 35, formerly of Thompson Street, appeared in Shenandoah County Circuit Court on Monday where he stood charged with second-degree murder and a related firearms offense for the Oct. 26, 2014, shooting death of Corry Patrick O’Neill. Ward also stood charged with attempted rape, abduction with the intent to defile, malicious wounding, strangulation, abduction, assault and battery of a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest and destruction of property.
An agreement reached between Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda McDonald Wiseley and one of the defendant’s lawyers, Robert Hahn, called for Ward to plead guilty to committing second-degree murder and the firearms charge. Ward also pleaded guilty to the malicious wounding, strangulation and abduction of a woman identified in the agreement as Sadie M. Beck. Ward also pleaded guilty to the assault and battery of Strasburg police officer Eric Ramey.
In exchange for his guilty pleas, the commonwealth agreed to drop Ward’s remaining four charges of attempted rape, abduction with the intent to defile and misdemeanor offenses of resisting arrest and destruction of property.
Judge Dennis L. Hupp accepted the plea agreement and scheduled Ward’s sentencing hearing for June 3, according to court information. The agreement calls for Hupp to sentence Ward at the court’s discretion.
Ward remains held without bond at the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail.
Ward shot and killed O’Neill, 42, of Gaithersburg, Maryland, at the Ramada Inn off U.S. 11 in Strasburg in the early morning hours of Oct. 26, authorities said, citing a witness’ account. O’Neill died in the hotel room at approximately 3 a.m. just before authorities arrived at the scene. O’Neill died from a single gunshot fired from a .38 caliber revolver held by Ward, town police said. Ward also attacked Beck, of Pennsylvania, in the same hotel room, police have said. Beck received treatment at a hospital for a broken arm and cuts on the neck, police said.
The charges to which Ward pleaded guilty carry the following prison or jail terms, according to the agreement:
• Second-degree murder – no less than 5 years nor more than 40 years in prison.
• Use of a firearm in the commission of second-degree murder – three years in prison.
• Strangulation – one to five years in prison or up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of no more than $2,500.
• Abduction – one to five years in prison or up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of no more than $2,500.
• Assault and battery of a law-enforcement officer – one to five years in prison or up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of no more than $2,500.
The charges dismissed per the agreement carry the following prison or jail terms:
• Attempted rape – no less than two years nor more than 10 years.
• Abduction with the intent to defile – 20 years to life in prison.
• Resisting arrest – up to 12 months in jail and a fine of no more than $2,500.
• Destruction of property – up to 12 months in jail and a fine of no more than $2,500.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org