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Dawson v. Commonwealth

Court of Appeals of Virginia

May 27, 2014

ROBERT WAYNE DAWSON, II
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF LANCASTER COUNTY. Joseph E. Spruill, Jr., Judge Designate.

Michael L. Donner, Sr. (Dunton, Simmons & Dunton, LLP, on brief), for appellant.

Rosemary V. Bourne, Assistant Attorney General (Mark R. Herring, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.

Present: Judges Humphreys, Kelsey and Petty. OPINION BY JUDGE ROBERT J. HUMPHREYS.

OPINION

Page 95

[63 Va.App. 430] ROBERT J. HUMPHREYS, JUDGE.

Robert Wayne Dawson, II (" Dawson" ) appeals his conviction of strangulation, in violation of Code § 18.2-51.6, after a bench trial in the Circuit Court of Lancaster County (" trial court" ). Dawson argues that the evidence is insufficient to prove that the strangulation caused a wounding or bodily injury to the victim.

[63 Va.App. 431] I. BACKGROUND

We review the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, the prevailing party in the trial court. Commonwealth v. Hudson, 265 Va. 505, 514, 578 S.E.2d 781, 786 (2003). In this light, the evidence established the following.

In July 2012, Dawson was living at the Knight's Inn hotel in Richmond with his girlfriend and their young child (collectively, " the family" ). Knight's Inn was forcing the family to leave due to lack of funds. Dawson called his mother, Penney Pittman (" Pittman" ), the victim, and told her this news and that the family was going to live in a tent in the woods. Pittman drove from Lancaster County to pick up the family on July 25, 2012. Pittman and the family arrived at Pittman's home in Lancaster County in the early evening of July 25. The family spent the night at Pittman's house, and Pittman washed the family's clothes from 6:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. on July 26.

Around 10:00 a.m. on July 26, Pittman informed Dawson that he could not stay on her property and he became upset. Dawson started cursing his mother and blaming her for their homelessness. Pittman was holding the child as Dawson was working himself up and yelling at Pittman. Dawson took the child and put him outside on the back deck. As Pittman was trying to go past Dawson to get the child, Dawson started grabbing her upper arms. Pittman pushed Dawson's chest

Page 96

to get away from him. Dawson grabbed Pittman several times--grabbing her arms, shoulders, and shirt--and then he hit her in the face. Pittman told Dawson to stop, and she turned away from him because the child was watching.

Once they were on the back deck, Dawson yanked Pittman's wrist down to the deck and spun her so that he was behind her and her back was physically touching his chest. His right hand was holding her right wrist and he pinned her hand into the side of her neck and squeezed her neck with the muscle from his right arm. Meanwhile, he " slammed" into her chest with his left hand. " It knocked the breath out of me. [A]t that point, I could hear my heart beat in my head because I [63 Va.App. 432] couldn'tt breathe anymore. I didn't. Everything started going black." Pittman continued, " I started to hear my heart beat very loudly. There was pressure on the side of my neck, on both sides." She reiterated that the pressure was from her hand that Dawson was holding beside her neck on one side and from his upper right arm ...


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