Charlottesville Judge Delays Sentencing Richard Preston
A Charlottesville judge will wait until August to sentence the man who fired a pistol near Emancipation Park last summer.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A Charlottesville judge will wait until August to sentence the man who fired a pistol near Emancipation Park last summer.
Judge Richard Moore is ordering a pre-sentence report for Richard Wilson Preston. The judge is also allowing Preston to leave Virginia to travel to his home in Baltimore, Maryland.
Preston appeared in Charlottesville Circuit Court for sentencing Wednesday, May 9. A three-day jury trial was scheduled to get underway, but the 53-year-old defendant told the court on Tuesday that he was pleading no contest. As a result, Judge Moore found Preston guilty of firing a weapon within 1,000 feet of a school.
The charge stems from an incident during the Unite the Right rally on August 12, 2017: Preston, who reportedly has ties to the Ku Klux Klan, fired a single bullet in the direction of Corey Long, a protester accused of using a flame-throwing device.
Preston’s attorney, Elmer Woodard, has argued that his client was acting in self-defense.
Wednesday, Woodard called three of Preston's friends forward to testify in the case. They each said that Preston is not a violent person and a careful gun owner. The fourth witness saw Preston during the incident and said he was protecting other people from the alleged flame thrower.
Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney Joseph Platania played a video from the ACLU of Virginia that he says shows Preston firing towards Long. The commonwealth also showed the court a video taken from a different source in which Preston can be heard saying, "Go ahead, I'll shoot you. Go ahead."
Platania says Preston had no legal justification to fire a gun in a crowded area that day.
The pre-sentence report is expected to be complete in 60 days and will provide Judge Moore background information on the case. Preston is now scheduled to be sentenced on August 21.