A Culpeper man accused of sexually violating a child under the age of 13 more than a dozen years ago has chosen to fight his case in front of an Albemarle County jury.
The lawyer for Theodore Robert Deal made the call earlier this month in Albemarle Circuit Court.
"We’re asking for a defense jury," lawyer Jessica Phillips told Judge Cheryl Higgins. "This is one of those cases where some of the allegations go back to 2009."
Phillips noted during a Dec. 4 hearing that the investigative and discovery process in preparing a defense would be "extensive" and pushed for a trial toward the latter part of the year. The judge and the prosecutor, Alicia Milligan, agreed; and they set the trial for three days beginning Oct. 1.
Indicted by an Albemarle grand jury in August, the 31-year-old Deal stands charged with with one count of child cruelty and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. A conviction of aggravated sexual battery carries a penalty from one to 20 years in prison, while a child cruelty conviction carries a penalty of one to five years.
A pool of 30 potential jurors is considered "normal" to seat a 12-person jury, Higgins said at the hearing. But for this particular case, she’s optin for more.
"I’m going to say 40 jurors," the judge said.
Arrested in late August, Deal, a musician and used car salesman, was granted an unsecured $10,000 bail and released from the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. His bail terms forbid him from unsupervised interactions with juveniles and from consuming any illegal drugs or alcohol.
Deal was present in the courtroom with his attorney, who is a member of the local office of the public defender, but he did not speak.
The indictment alleges that over the course of nine months in 2009 and 2010 Deal, who has no known criminal history, abused a minor named only in court papers as C.R.W.