Bond denied, trial set in DUI maiming case

WOODSTOCK — Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp on Wednesday denied a defense request for the reinstatement of bond in a case involving a Strasburg man accused of hitting a bicyclist with an SUV in November 2016.

Ernest Linwood Tharpe III, 35, was allegedly driving under the influence on Nov. 9, 2016 on U.S. 11 when his vehicle struck Raymond Swinson Jr., who was riding his bike home from work. Swinson was hospitalized and suffered major head trauma.

Tharpe was indicted on DUI maiming, second DUI and driving with an open container  in May, and was granted a $10,000 unsecured bond at that time, the conditions of which stated that he would not drink any alcohol and would not commit any crimes. In July, Tharpe was charged with violating a protective order, stalking and property destruction in Page County General District Court; the property destruction charge was dismissed and Tharpe was sentenced to jail time.

His attorney, Franklin Reynolds, did not object to Tharpe’s bond being revoked on Aug. 16 in response to a request by Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Kristen Zalenski after the new charges had been filed.  On Wednesday, Reynolds asked that the bond be reinstated because Tharpe will be finished serving his jail sentence on the misdemeanors in Page County on Tuesday.

Zalenski called Tharpe’s ex-fiancee Elizabeth Weber, the complainant in the Page County charges, to testify at Wednesday’s hearing. Weber said that Tharpe’s drinking has gotten worse since the accident, with him drinking “everyday, all day,” and regularly driving after drinking. She also said that the day he had been given bond, he immediately went to an ABC store to buy more liquor.

“Every date that we left the court, he went and got drunk,” Weber said

Tharpe testified that Weber’s statements were “a little exaggerated,” and said that were he to be granted bond he would stay with his grandmother in Strasburg and away from Weber in Page County. Zalenski argued that Tharpe was a danger to the community and that he committed serious misdemeanor offenses while on bond.

Hupp denied the bond motion because Tharpe never denied that he continued to drink and drive, and he violated the bond conditions. A jury trial  has been set for Nov. 6 in Shenandoah County Circuit Court. If convicted, Tharpe faces up to six years imprisonment.