Three closely watched crime cases advanced to a higher court Thursday.
These include the woman accused of killing her boyfriend in a University of Virginia parking deck, a young man involved in springtime shootout on Preston Avenue and the case of the truck-driving man thwarted while attempting to abduct a UVa student.
In the case of the alleged abduction, defendant James Robert Allen, a 41-year-old Suffolk man operating a contracting company truck, saw his attempted strangulation charge dropped. However, prosecutor Joe Platania, the Charlottesville commonwealth’s attorney, suggested in court that more serious charges could soon be added.
"Additional felony charges will be presented to the February grand jury," Platania told Judge Andrew Sneathern.
In a case that drew shudders among students and parents, Allen allegedly attacked and hauled a female undergraduate into a pickup truck at the corner of Rugby Road and Burnley Avenue on the evening of Oct. 4. A quick response by a UVa professor and his family allegedly thwarted the attack, which ended in a fraternity house yard where Allen crashed the truck after it was pursued by members of the professor’s family.
Appearing Thursday in Charlottesville General District Court wearing eyeglasses, closely cropped hair and a waist chain, Allen seemed subdued as he agreed to waive his opportunity for a preliminary hearing. His abduction case now moves to a grand jury, which will meet in February to decide whether to lodge that charge and additional charges with a higher court.
Another such waiver involved Tabatha Lynn Head of the Southwest Virginia hamlet of Lebanon. A frequent arrestee who has also used the surname Dotson, the 47-year-old woman is charged with voluntary manslaughter.
She’s accused of fatally stabbing her boyfriend, 53-year-old Brian Patrick Kiser, after the two had traveled with Kiser’s father for surgery at UVa Medical Center. Police say she stabbed Kiser in a car in the 11th Street parking garage on Sept. 7. Like Allen, she remains held without bail at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail.
The final case moving toward a February grand jury meeting involves 21-year-old Kyhiem Brancardius Kier. He’s charged with possessing a firearm as a felon after allegedly participating in a shootout near the intersection of Preston and Madison avenues on May 16.
Kier allegedly told police that he fired in self-defense when he pulled the trigger while driving away from a confrontation and dodging bullets coming at him. A police report indicates that Kier has relinquished the Glock .40 caliber handgun that he fired and cooperated in the investigation.
While Kier has been granted home electronic incarceration and appeared Thursday in Charlottesville General District Court in street clothes, the man accused of shooting at Kier remains jailed. He is 18-year-old Zayon Jamir Payne, who has been charged with attempted malicious wounding, shooting from a vehicle and the use a firearm in a felony.
The May 16 shootout shut down Preston Avenue and delayed the afternoon release of Charlottesville public school students.
If the grand jury finds sufficient evidence, charges in all three of these cases will move to Charlottesville Circuit Court.