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Man sentenced for letting child roam

Roger Walls

FRONT ROYAL – A town man sentenced Monday to jail time for leaving a young child outside unattended in 2017 also remains on the hook for an expert witness hired to help his case.

Judge Clifford L. Athey Jr. sentenced Roger Lee Walls III in Warren County Circuit Court to 12 months in jail with six months suspended for one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Athey sentenced Walls to 30 days in jail, all suspended, for one count of possession of marijuana. The judge delayed Walls’ deadline to report to the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail to begin serving his sentence. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorneys Bryan Layton and Anna Hammond prosecuted the cases.

Walls’ attorney D. Eric Wiseley described his client as a member of the “working poor” and asked Athey if the court would waive making the defendant cover the cost of an expert witness hired by the defense. Athey noted Wiseley’s exception but ordered Walls to pay the expert witness fees that totaled $5,500.

Authorities charged Walls, 33, of 433 Cherrydale Ave., in late February 2017 after responding to the area of 722 River Drive for a report of two unsupervised children running in the street. A criminal complaint states that the responding police officer arrived and found the eldest of the two children, a 5-year- old, wearing only a diaper. Witnesses on the scene told the officer they last saw the younger child, less than 2 years old, wandering through a fenced-in yard at 433 Cherrydale Ave. The officer eventually found Walls unresponsive in his home. Walls submitted to a breath test for alcohol, and he registered a blood alcohol content of 0.11. The officer also had noticed a glass jar containing marijuana in the bedroom, which Walls later admitted belonged to him, the complaint states.

While officers were on the scene, the eldest child grabbed a steak knife from somewhere in the house and began playing with it, the complaint states. Another officer took the knife from the child to prevent him from hurting himself. The first officer to respond states in the complaint that he learned this was the third documented time in the past year that the children were found unsupervised in public while they were supposed to be in the care of Walls.

A grand jury indicted Walls in May 2017 on two felony counts of child endangerment and one misdemeanor count of possession of marijuana. Child endangerment carries a maximum punishment of five years in prison.

An agreement reached between the commonwealth and Wiseley and accepted by the court in April called for the defendant to plead no contest to the lesser charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and guilty to possession of marijuana. In exchange for the pleas, the court dismissed the remaining charge of child endangerment.

The agreement included the terms of the punishment. Athey ordered the defendant to pay court costs, to complete supervised and unsupervised probation and to participate in a parenting class through the Department of Social Services.

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