LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ7) “I can tell you that, when I went to the crime scene, I thought we had a murder case,” says Chris Billias, Rockbridge County's Commonwealth’s Attorney.
But the medical examiner couldn’t establish a clear cause of death – testimony she repeated in court Friday – and the charge was malicious wounding.
After a half-day of prosecution testimony, Martin Nicholas was convicted by Judge Jonathan Apgar. The defense vigorously question the commonwealth’s evidence, but offered no witnesses of its own. Nicholas has maintained his innocence throughout.
Nicholas was also charged with domestic abuse, but Judge Apgar dismissed it as being a lesser and included charge within the malicious wounding.
”You know as prosecutors, we have an ethical duty to not go beyond what we can charge based on our evidence," explains Billias. "So we were limited by the evidence that we did to the charge that was brought before the court, and that was malicious wounding.”
Sentencing will come in January. Nicholas could receive up to 20 years, although guidelines indicate 3 to 8.