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Charlottesville man accused of threatening another man's life heads to court

A young Charlottesville man named Torius Jihad Price faces a preliminary hearing this week on a felony charge of threatening another man with bodily injury.

If the charge survives that hearing, then authorities will have moved one step closer to getting a charge against Price to stick. But his outspoken attorney is blasting an aborted recent prosecution as both weak and inappropriate.

“Torius would have been acquitted at trial,” defense attorney Peter Frazier told The Daily Progress. “But it’s a shame that he sat in jail for months awaiting this hearing only to have it canceled at the last minute.”

Price’s most recent trial had been slated for March 27 in Albemarle County Circuit Court. There, the 22-year-old man was facing two felony counts: marijuana distribution and possession of a firearm with a drug, i.e., marijuana.

On the morning of the trial, a county prosecutor “nolle prossed” the two felony charges, which means they’ve been dropped but could be reinstated later. An assistant commonwealth’s attorney told the court that the case might get relaunched because a recent search warrant found more marijuana and another gun with Price. Frazier, however, has blasted this pursuit of his client as overreach.

“It’s 2024,” Frazier said. “Literally no one cares about weed anymore, not even the police.”

Frazier expressed similar derision for the firearms charge because the gun that launched it was seized from a locked glove box in Price’s Jaguar XJ sedan, while the marijuana was found inside Price’s residence.

“The prosecutor said the gun was somehow used in furtherance of the weed possession, which is ridiculous,” said Frazier. “Those charges should never have been filed.”

Frazier has recently become an in-demand lawyer in Charlottesville. He also represents an Ohio-based man facing charges for participating in the infamous torch-lit march of White supremacists across University of Virginia Grounds in 2017 ahead of the fatal Unite the Right rally-turned-riot. In that case, representing Jacob Joseph Dix, Frazier successfully got both the original judge and then the original prosecutor thrown off the case.

Following those unexpected achievements, Frazier was recently tapped to represent another participant in the torch-wielding mob, Thomas Rousseau, the founder and leader of the White supremacist Patriot Front group.

Frazier’s recent prominence has not come without criticism. For instance, during a Feb. 22 hearing for another man facing a charge stemming from the torch-lit march, a judge blasted Frazier’s brief as filled with “hyperbole.” And at the conclusion of one hearing on Jan. 8, the prosecutor that Frazier ousted, Lawton Tufts, refused to shake his outstretched hand.

Asked about the recently dropped marijuana charge Price was facing, Frazier said that on his way into court that morning he walked past three people smoking pot near the Charlottesville police station. And he showed The Daily Progress a snippet of his client’s interrogation, in which the lead police investigator can be heard practically apologizing for enforcing marijuana law.

“We ain’t worried about that shit,” the detective says in the video. “We have to seize it. I wish I could smoke it.”

Admitted to the state bar in 2015, Frazier joined a practice in Lovingston the following year and quickly took over when his law partner Daniel L. Rutherford was elected commonwealth’s attorney for Nelson County. He said that he soon found that he was getting many clients from Charlottesville.

Such as Price. It was Frazier who defended Price last year on a gun brandishing charge in Charlottesville General District Court. In that case, Price was alleged to have gone to the home of Orlando Wendell Allen Jr. shortly after the then-17-year-old Allen fatally ambushed and shot 20-year-old Justice Kilel at the Sunshine Supermarket on Cherry Avenue in the city.

Allen’s mother reported that Price, whom she knew as “Toro,” had aimed a laser sight at her dwelling while she cradled a child in her arms. Because laser sights are often mounted on firearms as aiming devices, the mother told authorities she dove for cover in fear for her life.

At trial last May, however, Price emerged with an acquittal on that misdemeanor.

Now Frazier finds himself prepping to defend Price against the felony threat charge in that same court. According to the criminal complaint, Price sent Instagram messages in early March to a local man named Bruno Pham that made Pham fear for his safety.

“Shit yo bitch ass up for I come smack you,” was one such alleged message, according to the complaint.

Another message instilled fear in Pham for his parents, according to the complaint.

“U won’t home pussy ur bitch ass mom didn’t answer either,” reads another message.

The threat case is slated for a preliminary hearing on Thursday. Price was freed from the custody of the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail in late March and remains free on bail.


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