Man charged with attempted murder

John Sims

John Sims

A Manassas man was arrested and charged with attempted first-degree murder Wednesday after deputies spoke to an injured victim.

John Eric Sims, 32, appeared in Frederick County General District Court via video call Wednesday to receive court-appointed council and set a preliminary hearing date. He’s being held without bond at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center.

Deputies from the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office responded to the Cove Campground in Gore at around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday for an alleged assault, a news release states. There, they made contact with Justin Leavitt, who was bleeding and had injuries on his head, neck and torso.

Sims’ arrest warrant states that Leavitt advised responders that Sims was his attacker and had threatened to kill him and cut his neck with a box cutter. Leavitt said Sims had punched him, kicked him and pushed his thumbs into his eyes so he couldn’t see.

The warrant also states that Leavitt was placed in Winchester Medical Center’s intensive care unit and was treated for eye injuries and a broken rib that had punctured his lung.

Capt. Donnie Lang, of the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, said deputies also spoke to a witness at the campground. He said Sims, Leavitt and the witness were camping together when Sims and Leavitt got into an argument about a piece of property that  escalated. Lang said one of the individuals mentioned that substances were involved, but officials don’t believe that was a contributing factor in the incident.

Lang said Sims was arrested when he returned to the campground. Deputies did not say if Sims had sustained any injuries.

“There was no indication that there was a mutual exchange at all, it was more one-sided,” Lang said.

He noted that the extent of Leavitt’s injuries and the reported verbal threat on his life led to an attempted first-degree murder charge rather than a malicious wounding charge.

Leavitt is still at Winchester Medical Center, where he is stable and able to communicate but still recovering from his injuries, Lang said.

Sims is scheduled to appear again in Frederick County General District Court on Dec. 13 for a preliminary hearing on his attempted murder charge. According to online court records, he was also charged with misdemeanor public swearing or intoxication and defrauding hotels from a Tuesday incident.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137, ext. 164, or

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