One of the three men charged with using a burning object for racial intimidation on University of Virginia Grounds in 2017 was released after his Ohio arrest and, despite an Albemarle County prosecutor’s effort to revoke his bail, remains free. Dallas Medina of Ravenna, Ohio, appeared in Albemarle Circuit Court on Thursday before Judge Claude Worrell.
“The thing Mr. Medina has going for him is that the [Ohio] judge asked him to go to Virginia and turn himself in, and within 72 hours he was here,” said Worrell. “As a result, the court declines to revoke his bond.”
That decision came at the close of a roughly 25-minute hearing during which Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Lawton Tufts alleged that Medina had used racial epithets in online discussion groups and was part of a group of white nationalists who gathered at UVa carrying flaming torches and shouting racist slogans, later surrounding a small group of counterprotesters that locked arms around the statue of Thomas Jefferson in front of the Rotunda on Grounds.
“They gather and encircle them and slowly start to turn in and enclose them,” Tufts told the judge as he held up a photograph. “This is Mr. Medina in one of the front rows in that photograph. It turns into somewhat of a melee.”
“This happened six years ago,” countered Medina’s attorney, Mike Hallahan. “He’s gainfully employed. He’s not a flight risk. He came down here on his own.”
Papers in Medina’s file in Portage County, Ohio, show that Medina was arrested on March 31. His Ohio attorney wrote in one filing that although Medina was charged as a “fugitive” that the commonwealth of Virginia made no effort to retrieve him.
“Mr. Medina is more than willing to self-surrender to the demanding state,” wrote his Ohio lawyer, Dan Weisenburger. “He is ready and able to drive himself there.”
Medina appeared to have done that.
The court records indicate that, with payment of $1,000 as part of a $10,000 recognizance bond, Medina was granted bail on April 12 in Ohio.
Medina was wearing street clothes in Albemarle Circuit Court as Hallahan argued his case on Thursday, a day after Medina’s 29th birthday. Hallahan said Medina works for a tree surgeon and subsequently filed a motion to modify the terms of his client’s bail so that Medina could return to that job.
Medina did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Daily Progress on Friday.
Less successful was Tyler Bradley Dykes of Bluffton, South Carolina. Like Medina, he was indicted Feb. 6, and his indictment was unsealed on April 17. Unlike Medina, when he appeared Friday before Worrell he was wearing leg irons and the striped jumpsuit of the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, where he has been held since his arrest.
“He wants to get back to his customers,” said his father, Scott Dykes, testifying at the hearing. “His business is going to people’s residences and helping them with computer problems.”
The father said he would bring his son into the Bluffton residence he shares with his wife. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Lawton Tufts, however, opposed any release.
“I just want you to take a look at a picture,” said Tufts, handing the father a surveillance photo of a man suspected by Sumter, South Carolina, Crime Stoppers of placing swastika stickers on businesses about three years ago.
“Does that look like your son?”
“It could be,” answered the father.
On the UVa Lawn, Tufts told the judge, the younger Dykes used his extinguished torch as a weapon against counter-protesters who were encircled by the larger crowd of white nationalists on Aug. 11, 2017, the night before the notorious Unite the Right rally-turned-riot in Charlottesville.
“The defendant is on the front line of this,” said Tufts. “It is nothing short of bone-chilling to see.”
Tufts said that on March 17, the day Dykes was arrested, he got bitten by a dog while hanging some sort of offensive banner.
“He’s still involved in this behavior,” said Tufts.
“I wouldn’t say that hanging banners is similar,” said defense attorney Bryan Jones, adding that Dykes was 19 years old when he marched on the Lawn at UVa.
Worrell, however, alleged that the “continued activities” of Dykes posed a community threat and denied bail for the man, now a 25-year-old.
A third alleged torch-wielder, 45-year-old Will Zachary Smith, of Nacona, Texas, also appeared in Albemarle County Circuit Court Friday, but his attorney Cody Villalon got the judge to move the planned bail hearing to May 3. Smith also faces a charge of discharging a noxious or nauseating gas.