The Collegian
Saturday, December 10, 2022

October trial set for charged campus gunman

A grand jury in Richmond has ruled enough evidence exists to try Seth A. Newman, the 19-year-old charged in relation to a May 6 campus lockdown, on a felony charge of wearing a mask in public.

Newman's trial is set to begin in Richmond City Circuit Court at 9 a.m. Oct. 20 and is expected to take about a day unless the Commonwealth and Newman's attorney reach a plea agreement.

The grand jury met in Richmond Aug. 3 to consider the case. Newman and his attorney, David Whaley, were not present, said Colette McEachin, the Commonwealth's attorney.

"We're in constant contact to make sure Seth is essentially maintaining the terms of his bond and keeping out of trouble," McEachin said. "Given what happened at Virginia Tech a year earlier, everyone took the incident seriously. The fact at no one was injured and that he may not have intended to injure anyone does not minimize the effect his contact had on the university, the university community, and other schools in the area."

McEachin said it was too early to tell whether both sides would strike a plea deal.

If the case is taken to trial, Whaley would decide whether to have a bench trial, in which a judge presides, or a jury trial, in which 12 jurors are present.

Phone and e-mail messages left for Whaley by two Collegian reporters have not been returned. Officers with the University of Richmond Police Department also could not be immediately reached by The Collegian for comment.

Newman was arrested May 7, a day after police say he walked into Boatwright Memorial Library disguised as a sheriff's officer wielding a pellet gun in a holster on his side. The charge, a class 6 felony, carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and a $2,500 fine.

Editor's Note: This story UPDATES with comment from Deputy Commonwealth attorney Colette McEachin.

Collegian staff writer David Larter reported from Elmer, N.J. and Dan Petty reported from Washington.

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