Six Months and Still No Arrest

By: Lisa Ferrari
By: Lisa Ferrari

September 13, 2006

It’s been six months since a teenager was shot and killed in Charlottesville on 6th Street SW and still, there has been no arrest in the case. The family still has many unanswered questions.

Thursday marks the six month anniversary 18-year-old Gerald Washington Jr. was killed. Police say they know who did it, yet the alleged shooter is still walking the streets while the victim's father is left wondering why.

“Where’s the justice?” questioned Gerald Washington Sr.

He wants to know why someone hasn't been charged in the shooting death of his son. On March 14th, 2006 the suspect in the shooting called 911 and turned himself in. He told police he shot Gerald Washington Jr. multiple times in self-defense. The victim, police said, had a knife and that the homicide may have been justified. Still Washington Sr. says why not let a jury decide?

“Any charge would be fine with me. It makes no difference. You can't just take a life and roam around here in the city free,” said Washington Sr.

To make things more complicated for the family, there was a second unrelated homicide in Charlottesville on South 1st St. on June 18th, 2006.

Police say Jermaine Thurston shot an unarmed man once in the stomach. Thurston, too, called 911, turned himself in and said it was self-defense.

“They are two separate cases and they have to both be evaluated independently,” said Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo.

Thurston is behind bars facing a second degree murder trial in January. Even Thurston’s family, through their attorney, said justice just doesn't seem equal.

“This is very upsetting to the mom and I. Quite frankly as an attorney, I want to be able to explain why this person wouldn't be charged and Mr. Thurston, who was really put in a bad spot did not intend to kill anyone, is being pursued so vigorously,” said Thurston’s Defense Attorney Debbie Wyatt.

Washington Sr. wonders the same thing. “If he's locked up, why isn’t the guy that murdered my son locked up? That is the question that always comes to me every day, every morning and every night,” he said.

The Commonwealth’s Attorney, Dave Chapman told us no charges have been filed because the investigation is on-going. Yet police say they've exhausted all leads. Still the Commonwealth is hoping investigators will locate one last witness, a man named Gary, before moving forward.

Criminal attorneys we spoke with said the Commonwealth could move forward without pressing charges. It could send their evidence to a grand jury that could directly indict or dismiss the case.

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