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One of 2017 torch-wielding marchers accepts plea deal

One of the three men indicted earlier this year for wielding torches as part of a racist mob on the Grounds of the University of Virginia nearly six years ago, Will Zachary Smith of Nacona, Texas, has accepted a plea deal, according to Albemarle County court records.

Smith, who had been held at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail since January, was freed May 3 on a $10,000 bond that requires him to go back to his home state of Texas but cooperate with Albemarle authorities.

Smith had also been indicted for discharging harmful gases. That indictment was made by another Albemarle grand jury meeting in 2018, less than a year after the infamous torch march on UVa Grounds.

There on Aug. 11, 2017, hundreds of white nationalists marched and shouted slogans including “Blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us.”

Albemarle Circuit Court records suggest that the gas charge will be dropped in exchange for Smith’s guilty plea on the charge of burning to intimidate, but Circuit Court Judge Cheryl Higgins ordered his plea to remain sealed.

Smith was arrested in early 2021 in Montague County, Texas, and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He was bailed out on a $50,000 bond. That fall, he waived arraignment. However, a search of Texas records shows no conviction, and his attorney for the Charlottesville charges, Cody Villalon of Richmond, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Daily Progress.

Smith appears to be 38 years old according to the most recent court records. A prior report based on what may have been an erroneous court document listed him as several years older.

Higgins requested the creation of a presentence report on Smith and ordered him to return for sentencing on Aug. 7.


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