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2021 shooting on Charlottesville's Prospect Ave. nets six-year jail term

For shooting an acquaintance a year and a half ago, 33-year-old Alexander Leon Rodgers will serve six years behind bars, a judge ruled Thursday.

A brief hearing in Charlottesville Circuit Court gave the public its first look at what happened on Prospect Avenue the night of April 13, 2021.

"Tell him I’m outside," Rogers texted his acquaintance William Jefferson Jr., according to the prosecutor, Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Nina-Alice Antony.

Antony told the court that Jefferson and his fiancée had just come back from a series of errands that included stopping by Pizza Hut, and that his fiancée’s children were inside their apartment when Jefferson stepped outside.

Gunshots rang out from in or near a car, and Jefferson Jr. was found to be suffering wounds in his upper chest and lower right back, Antony said.

"These were very serious, life-threatening injuries," Antony told the judge.

Despite the wounds, Jefferson somehow managed to utter "Rico," presumably a nickname, when asked who shot him, said Antony, who then noted that the fiancée quickly provided investigators with text screenshots and social media images of Rodgers. However, Antony said, Rodgers fled to North Carolina, where he was arrested several days later.

Court records indicate that the time of the incident, Rodgers was on parole for a felony drug conviction, so the shooting also unleashed a felon-in-possession firearm charge in addition to the charge of malicious wounding.

Antony said that because Rodgers and his victim were involved in trading drugs or other materials that Jefferson did not wish to testify. She said that Jefferson made a full recovery from the injuries and supported resolving this case with a plea deal that Judge Edward L. Hogshire called appropriate.

"This could have been a murder case, so this is really serious," said Hogshire after asking the shackled Rodgers to stand for the sentencing.

Hogshire delineated the six-year active sentence by declaring three years for malicious wounding, two years for the firearm, and one year for prior suspended sentences. Upon his release, Rodgers will also have three years of supervised probation and must remain on good behavior for 15 years. Any new crimes during that time could cause a judge to impose the full but mostly-suspended sentence imposed at the hearing of 20 years.

Rodgers was represented by Lauren Reese with the Charlottesville Public Defender’s Office. Reese alleged in court that there were "credibility concerns" with the accusers but agreed to her client’s deal.

"You’re a young man," Judge Hogshire said as he concluded the hearing, "and unfortunately you’ve involved yourself with behaviors that have gotten you into trouble."

In another case, the judge accepted a plea deal from Omie Henry Gladden III, who pleaded guilty to a felony malicious injury case and a six-month sentence for splashing bleach on his girlfriend. Gladden, who has already served several months in jail, will probably be released within days, according to his attorney, William W. Tanner.

Prosecutor Antony noted that although Gladden’s sentence may not seem long, she was grateful to secure a felony conviction because the victim, who recovered without disfigurement, declined to cooperate.

"Under the circumstances," noted Judge Hogshire, "this is the closest we’re going to get to justice in this case."

In a happier case, the courtroom filled with smiles from both prosecution and defense tables as Shawn Jermaine Jones, 33, dressed in close-fitting denim jacket, approached the witness stand from the gallery. Arrested earlier this year on a drug charge possession charge that could have meant jail time due to a prior offense, he instead graduated from a treatment program offered through the locality’s drug court and saw his probation violation dismissed.

"It’s just been a blessing," said Jones. "I am not the man I was."

"Good luck to you," said a smiling Judge Hogshire, before Jones left the courtroom as a free man.


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