Man who shot daughter avoids prison

Allen Whitehead

FRONT ROYAL – A plea deal reached Monday allows a man accused of shooting his daughter in the face in 2015 to avoid prison time and felony convictions.

Allen J. Whitehead Jr. appeared in Warren County Circuit Court  where he entered Alford pleas of guilt to misdemeanor charges of assault and battery, brandishing a firearm and discharging a firearm in the Front Royal town limits. A defendant who enters an Alford plea maintains his or her innocence but acknowledges the prosecution has sufficient evidence to reach a conviction.

Whitehead, 56, entered the pleas under terms of an agreement reached between his lawyer, David Silek, and Commonwealth’s Attorney Brian Madden. The agreement called for Whitehead to plead guilty to reduced charges in the amended indictments.

Judge Ronald Napier accepted the agreement and Whitehead’s guilty pleas and sentenced the defendant to 12 months in jail on the assault and battery charge. The judge sentenced Whitehead to six months in jail for each of the firearm charges. Napier suspended the three jail terms and ordered Whitehead to complete unsupervised probation and pay restitution. The court dismissed the remaining charges.

A grand jury indicted Whitehead in 2016 on charges of malicious wounding, unlawful wounding, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, reckless handling of a firearm and discharging a firearm in an occupied dwelling. Authorities accused Whitehead of shooting his daughter in the face in August 2015. Whitehead has remained free on bond since his arrest the day after the incident.

Madden told Napier by way of a proffer of the evidence in the case that the incident arose out of a domestic dispute on Washington Avenue between the defendant and the victim. the argument escalated and the defendant pulled out a firearm that he discharged. The victim sustained an injury for which she received treatment. The victim has since fully recovered, Madden said. The victim moved to Tennessee more than two years ago, Madden said. The prosecutor said questions might have arisen over whether or not Whitehead fired the weapon in self defense or in the heat of passion.

Madden pointed out that Whitehead had no prior felony convictions or any criminal history. Whitehead told Napier that the state Board of Nursing informed him that he could keep his license. Whitehead is a registered nurse, according to the Virginia Department of Health Professions.

Malicious wounding carries a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison. A first conviction of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony carries a mandatory minimum punishment of three years in prison.