A Madison Heights man accused of multiple sex offenses pleaded guilty in Amherst Circuit Court on June 18 to two misdemeanor counts of assault and battery.
Leonard Eugene Blackwell, 39, was arrested in May 2018 and during the June 18 hearing before Judge Michael Garrett received an active sentence of 9 months behind bars on the pair of misdemeanor charges.
According to a plea agreement, prosecutors reduced an aggravated sexual battery of a minor charge and a sexual battery charge each to assault and battery. One count each of rape, sexual battery with intent to infect and a wounding charge against Blackwell also were dropped.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Clint Carwile said the two separate offenses that led to the pair of assault convictions involved a verbal exchange in one incident involving a minor and brief contact in another occasion. He said two witnesses live in Georgia and have difficulty traveling to Virginia for court proceedings.
Carwile said the commonwealth likely would have faced a “heavy burden” if the case had gone before a jury in explaining to Garrett reasoning for the plea deal. The outcome also keeps minors from having to testify.
Peter Frazier, Blackwell’s attorney, said his client would push back on some of the claims against him but evidence is enough for the misdemeanor convictions. “Mr. Blackwell will acknowledge some liability for simple assault,” Frazier said.
Eight other felony charges against Blackwell were dropped at a June 1 hearing and he awaits trial on four other pending probation violation charges.
Blackwell has a year and 3 months of suspended jail time, must be on good behavior two years after his release and is to have no contact with witnesses in the case, according to Garrett’s ruling.
Blackwell is serving a two-year sentence, which Garrett ordered in a June 2019 hearing, for failing to register as a sex offender.
Reach Justin Faulconer at (434) 385-5551.