Harrison submits Alford plea

Published 10:45 am Tuesday, July 3, 2018


Eric Donte Harrison

Eric Donte Harrison, 26, who was involved in the attempted abduction of a 12-year-old Kenbridge boy in October 2017, has submitted an Alford Plea for charges connected with the case, the Lunenburg County Commonwealth’s Attorney Office cited in a news release.

Harrison, of Kenbridge, submitted an Alford Plea of guilty to charges of abduction with intent to defile and use of a firearm in the commission of abduction involving a 12-year-old Kenbridge boy.

“In such a plea, the defendant denies guilt, but states he is pleading guilty because he fears he would be found guilty and sentenced more harshly if convicted by a jury which had been requested by the Commonwealth’s Attorney and was set for July 24,” the release cited.

Circuit Court Judge S. Anderson Nelson accepted the plea and found the evidence sufficient after receiving a summary of the anticipated evidence from Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Clement, and found Harrison guilty, the release cited.

According to Clement, he expected the evidence and testimony to prove the following:

“The victim was walking east on Broad Street on his way to the town park on Fifth Avenue when the boy says the man, who the boy did not know, pulled over in a car just past Slip-In Convenience Store, displayed a handgun, and told him to get into the car,” the release cited. “The boy said the man turned right on Fifth Avenue and drove toward South Hill. The boy said the man asked him if he could kiss the boy. The boy jumped out of the car in front of Virginia Marble on the South Hill Road as the vehicle was going about 55 mph. An eye-witness saw the boy jump out and stopped to assist him, and called 911. The boy was treated for abrasions and a dislocated collarbone at the South Hill hospital and released that night.”

Kenbridge Police Lt. Tyler Anderson was the lead investigator for the offense and was assisted by Chief Raymond Hite, Lunenburg Sheriff’s deputies and Victoria Police Officer Greg Wallace, the release cited.

“Police were able to identify and locate Harrison as the perpetrator within two hours, crediting the quick response to obtaining a surveillance video from a local store and having a bystander able to recognize Harrison in a photo printed out from the video and tell the police where he lived on Busy Lane. When police arrived at the home, they found Harrison sitting on the porch and the vehicle, an early 2000 model Chevy Blazer, black and tan in color, as had been described by the boy.”

“Harrison admitted picking up the child, but denied using a handgun,” the release cited. “He said he was going to take the boy to a thrift store near the pellet company at the intersection of the South Hill Road and Switchback Road. Anderson obtained a search warrant for the house to look for the handgun. Harrison’s car and house were searched, but no gun was found. He also checked the roadside between the location where Harrison turned his car around just past Virginia Marble and his home about three miles in distance.”

Nelson ordered a presentence report and a psychosexual evaluation before sentencing on Aug. 28.

“In exchange for Harrison’s agreement to be found guilty, the Commonwealth agreed that the sentence will be 53 years with 43 suspended, leaving a ten-year active sentence,” the release cited. “Clement said the parents of the victim did not want their son to have to testify again as he did in the preliminary hearing.”

“Clement said that he and law enforcement and Victim Director had other concerns about trying the case, and concluded that this was the best result,” the release cited. “‘We never found a gun even though police searched his home, car, and roadside thoroughly,” Clement said in the release. “‘If a judge or jury had not found beyond a reasonable doubt that there was a gun used, then all of the charges would have been dismissed. Although unlikely, there is always that risk with a jury, plus the chance of a hung jury if all 12 do not agree unanimously.’”

The judge has the right to reject the plea agreement after reviewing the presentence report and psychosexual evaluation.

Other factors taken into consideration to reach the plea agreement according to Clement were the following, the release cited:

“(The) defendant has never had any other criminal charges in his life,” the release cited. “The defendant was found to be mentally incompetent to stand trial by Crossroads Services staff on Jan. 16, 2018, but was restored to competency on or about Feb. 20, 2018 at Central State Hospital. He denied any mental health problems or treatment. Records indicate that he was treated at Poplar Springs Hospital in 2013 related to hallucinations. He was reportedly diagnosed with mental health conditions including Psychosis Not Otherwise Specified at that time. He received some outpatient treatment, but was often non-compliant. He was not diagnosed with a psychiatric condition on his admission to Central State. Defendant tested to be of average intellectual functioning and not experiencing any acute mental health conditions. The defendant reported that he graduated from high school and had some community college experience. He denied any history of special education services.”

“The defendant reported that he has worked at Walmart, Subway, and Jones Apparel. He also had some employment in construction,” the release cited. “He said he last worked a few years ago. He said he has no history of disability services. The defendant reported having seizures starting in 2017, and that his last seizure was in 2017. He denies that he was prescribed any medications to treat this condition. He did not report any other physical health concerns.”

The release cited that according to his DMV report, Harrison’s address was 392 Circle Drive, Lawrenceville, Virginia in 2016, but changed to 49 Busy Lane, Kenbridge.