Shooting defendant pleads guilty

Brandon Cline

Brandon Cline

WOODSTOCK – A Mount Jackson man pleaded guilty Wednesday in Shenandoah County Circuit Court to attempted first-degree murder of his father in a shooting incident that left the victim with a bullet that remains lodged in his face.

The defendant, Brandon Michael Cline, 20, formerly of 6284 Railroad St., shot his father, Michael Cline, in the face while standing in the yard outside the victim’s residence at 1809 Dodson Road Feb. 16. The bullet traveled through a window and struck Michael Cline while he was sitting on a couch.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda Wiseley told Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp that the defendant cited two motives in the shooting.

First, his father did not bail Brandon Cline out of jail after the son’s arrest in an earlier, separate incident, but Michael Cline did provide bail for someone else who was in jail.

Second, Brandon Cline was upset that his father paid $200 for a pair of boots for his girlfriend but shoes the defendant received from his father had been purchased at a flea market.

Authorities recovered the rifle used in the shooting several days later from a pond.

Michael Cline, 52, was taken to Rockingham County Memorial Hospital after the shooting and later to the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville. He was treated for a gunshot wound under his left eye.

Wiseley told Hupp that law enforcement officials never matched the bullet that wounded Michael Cline with the rifle because the bullet remains lodged in the victim’s face.

Wiseley said sheriff’s deputies were called to the scene by Michael Cline’s girlfriend.

“She was not at the residence,” Wiseley said of Michael Cline’s girlfriend. “The victim had contacted her and told her he was bleeding like a stuck pig.”

Brandon Cline could be sentenced to up to 70 years on the attempted murder charge plus three other offenses to which he pleaded guilty. Hupp scheduled a sentencing hearing for 10 a.m. on Jan. 31.

Defense attorney Michael Araj, of Staunton, said he planned to call six witnesses on behalf of Brandon Cline, including Michael Cline and the defendant’s mother. Both were in the courtroom during the plea hearing.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com.

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