Teen's Attorney Reacts to New Verdict in Retrial of Involuntary Manslaughter Case
Reporter: Litsa Pappas
A Rockingham County teen is resting easy now after being found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
This was the second time the teen, Sean McDonald, was in court for this case. The first trial, he was found guilty, but this jury reversed that verdict.
The crash happened last August in the Belmont Estates neighborhood, leaving 19-month-old Kate Beagle dead.
It's a tragedy on both sides: a baby killed in a car accident, and the driver, just 16 years old, on his way to school.
"I think I said it at the beginning of the trial that there'd be no winners, and really I think all that happened today is we were able to avoid another tragedy," said Aaron Cook, McDonald's lawyer.
Cook says the jury really listened to his evidence.
"One of the key points in the case is the physical evidence. The distance it took for the car to stop didn't support the theory that he was going at a high rate of speed," said Cook.
In the first trial, a judge found speeding to be a factor to convict McDonald of involuntary manslaughter. This time, the verdict changed, Cook says, all thanks to the jury.
"I think juries are really good at hearing evidence, working through the evidence and reaching a verdict, and I think they worked very hard," said Cook.
The jury worked hard for more than two hours to come up with the 'not guilty' verdict.
It's a verdict that left the courtroom in tears of both joy and pain.
Kate Beagle's family will never get its baby back, but for McDonald, it's a chance to start over.
"He's a really neat kid. I really enjoyed getting to know him, and I'm happy for him that he can put this behind him and move on with his life, and I hope the Beagle family can do the same," said Cook.
The prosecutor, Marsha Garst, says she's disappointed by the verdict and that it's still a sad story for the Beagle family.
University Coach Faces Sexual Battery Charge
Reporter: WHSV News Staff
HARRISONBURG -- Gary Lafayette Moore, a men's volleyball coach at Eastern Mennonite University, is charged with sexual battery. He says he did not know of any allegations until he was charged and that as soon as he was charged, he told his supervisors at EMU.
The following is an official statement from EMU:
"We are aware of the pending legal action and are awaiting to hear the outcome of the legal proceedings and will respond appropriately," said Andrea Wenger, the director of marketing and communications at EMU.
Tilted Kilt Opens in the Valley
Reporter: Estephany Escobar
HARRISONBURG -- A restaurant known for skimpy costumes opened its doors.
The Tilted Kilt is now at Valley Mall.
When customers come into the restaurant, one of the first things they notice is the servers' outfits. The manager said it's part of the atmosphere, but it's also deterring some people from coming to the restaurant.
“It's what our brand is made of, our kilt girls and that's who we are," said Tony Williams, the general manager.
All the servers are women. They wear stockings, short kilts and a cropped top.
"The costume is the costume the Tilted Kilt stands by, I mean, it's a very classy costume and we think looks very nice," said Williams.
Neighbor Melody Priest who goes to the mall often said it's not a place she would like to visit.
"When someone takes my order, I don't need breasts hanging over my food. I just like a cleaner atmosphere," said Priest.
She also said this place is not a good fit at Valley Mall.
“If they're going to open a sports bar like that, it needs to be down where the others are because I don't feel children should be subjected to that atmosphere."
Williams said the Tilted Kilt is a good thing for Harrisonburg.
“I respect their opinion. However, we look at all of the positives we bring to the community. We are bringing a lot of jobs. We are generating a lot of tax revenue for the area, so we look at that also as we are a great fit for the Valley," said Williams.
Priest recognizes they may help the economy, but she still doesn't like the idea of it.
“I know they're opening jobs, but they could put some clothes on. I mean the restaurant could be there, if the girls could be dressed more appropriate,” said Priest.
She says it could hurt mall business in the long run.
William says they have been busy since they opened. The manager is happy with the high turnout for the opening day. Williams says the restaurant hired 125 people from the area and some staff members are men.