Bond revoked in attempted murder case

WINCHESTER — Circuit Judge Neil R. Bryant granted a motion Thursday to revoke bond in the case against a Martinsburg, West Virginia, man accused of attempted murder.

Ellis Reginald Fennell, 28, is accused of shooting at a woman driving in her car on the 313A on-ramp northbound to Interstate 81 after an argument over possession of her cellphone on July 24, 2016. Fennell was charged with attempted first-degree murder, shooting at an occupied vehicle, and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. He was granted a secured bond in December 2016.

Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Andrew Robbins filed a motion to revoke that bond, arguing that Fennell violated the terms of that bond by committing a crime while out on bond. Robbins submitted a criminal complaint from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, charging Fennell with disorderly conduct and a small amount of marijuana possession.

According to Robbins, the complaint states that in Chambersburg Fennell was in a car with the alleged victim in the attempted murder case and is accused of physically assaulting her in the car, which led to the police being called and a small amount of marijuana being found in Fennell’s shirt pocket. The victim declined to press assault charges against Fennell from the Chambersburg incident.

Fennell’s bond allowed him to leave Virginia, so he did not violate those terms for being in Chambersburg, but he was ordered to avoid all contact with the victim in the attempted murder case and to be of good behavior; the Pennsylvania charges constitute a violation of both of those terms, even though the marijuana possession charge was dismissed and the case is now closed.

Fennell’s newly appointed attorney, J. David Black – who was appointed after the public defender’s office withdrew due to a “breakdown in communication” – argued that bond should not be revoked because Fennell clearly is not a flight risk, adding that if he was he would have already fled.

Bryant said that while the charges Fennell is facing in Virginia are presumed to be allegations, the nature of the charges are cause for concern, and revoked the bond on those grounds.

Robbins added that any previous offers that may have been made by the prosecution in attempts to come to a plea agreement would be withdrawn.

A two-day trial  has been set for Oct. 11-12 in Frederick County Circuit Court. If convicted, Fennell faces up to 23 years imprisonment.