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Orange man pleads not guilty to attempted murder, rape

ORANGE — Cruz Humbert Gallegos Grajeda pleaded not guilty to attempted murder, rape and several other charges in Orange County Circuit Court on Monday. His two-day bench trial has been set for mid-June.

Gallegos Grajeda, 53, of Orange, was arrested in April and charged with abduction, a felony; and assault and battery of a family member, a misdemeanor.

On May 14, while he was out on bond, the defendant picked up five more felony charges, all related to incidents occurring on May 9: attempted first-degree murder, rape, entering the home of a protected person, abduction and burglary.

During his arraignment, Gallegos Grajeda told Judge Dale Durrer through an interpreter that he completed sixth grade in Mexico and understands very little English.

The language barrier was obvious as the judge and the defendant struggled to communicate. At one point, the defendant said he couldn’t hear Durrer. In response, the interpreter moved close to Gallegos Grajeda and translated the judge’s questions and comments directly in his ear.

After the arraignment, Gallegos Grajeda’s lawyer, Adam Rhea of Charlottesville, asked the judge to consider setting bond for his client for a second time. He said Gallegos Grajeda wanted to track down a phone that will provide evidence in his defense. Rhea framed his request by saying the most serious charge his client faces is the violation of a protective order.

Orange County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Katie Fitzgerald begged to differ. Pointing out that the defendant is charged with attempted murder, among other offenses, she said Gallegos Grajeda had “immediately re-offended” after he was released on bond.

“To unleash him on this community would be a serious misstep in this case,” Fitzgerald said.

After hearing both sides, Durrer said he was not comfortable letting the defendant out on bond again from the Central Virginia Regional Jail, given the number of charges against him and his lack of ties to the area.

He scheduled Gallegos Grajeda’s trial for June 12 and June 15.


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