The young man accused of shooting into a pickup truck last winter and killing a promising college student will go to trial in April, after a recent finding by a Charlottesville grand jury.
"On or about February 22, 2023, in the City of Charlottesville Rayma’qua Antonio Nicholas unlawfully, maliciously and feloniously did kill and murder Nicklous Pendleton," the grand jury wrote Dec. 18.
The grand jury, led by foreman Bellamy Brown, heard from Charlottesville police detective Christopher Raines. In addition to certifying a second-degree murder charge, the group also certified a charge of using a firearm in the commission of a felony. The grand jury got the case after Nicholas waived his right to a preliminary hearing on Oct. 12.
A witness to the shooting’s aftermath told The Daily Progress of a horrific scene as the pickup truck driven by Pendleton came down Hardy Drive and slammed into another vehicle in the 10th & Page neighborhood, as the victim’s brother, in the passenger seat, cried out in physical and emotional agony. The brother reportedly suffered a broken leg in the crash.
Pendleton, a 2021 graduate of Louisa County High School who was pursuing a business administration degree at Piedmont Virginia Community College, died later that day at University of Virginia Medical Center.
In October, Pendleton’s alma mater announced the first three recipients of a scholarship created in Pendleton’s name. Like Pendleton, they are Louisa County graduates.
As for Nicholas, who was 19 at the time of the shooting, he is now 20 and taking sleep medication to deal with an unspecified ailment at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, where he has been held since his March 8 arrest.
"I have a disability," he reportedly told the magistrate upon arrest. "Although I am unsure what disability."
After Nicholas informed the court that he was receiving $700 in monthly disability payments and his mother, with whom he lived on Ridge Street, told officials that her son was "low IQ," Nicholas’ court-appointed attorney, Elliott Harding, filed paperwork for a mental competency evaluation. The ensuing report greenlighted Nicholas for trial.
"Overall, no current barriers to his trial competence were identified," wrote licensed clinical psychologist Maria Sverdlova in a letter dated July 18.
Nicholas’ trial is slated to get heard by a jury in Charlottesville Circuit Court over the course of three days beginning April 1.