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Testimony: Murder defendant likely a gang member
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Testimony: Murder defendant likely a gang member

RUSTBURG — Evidence on a phone belonging to a Gretna man charged with murder from a shooting late last month indicates he’s a gang member, investigators said at his bond hearing Tuesday.

Matthew Isaac Critchley, 19, was arrested Aug. 30 on charges of second-degree murder and using a firearm in a felony from a shooting the day before. He appeared Tuesday in Campbell County General District Court on a request to be released from jail on bond.

His father called 911 the night of Aug. 29 to say Critchley shot someone, prosecutor Mitchell Hanson said at the hearing, and law enforcement responded to a house on Buffalo Lane where Critchley’s father said the shooting occurred.

That was the house of Lawrence Keith Taylor, where Hanson said Critchley’s mother had been arguing with Taylor and was gathering her things to leave. When Critchley heard what was going on, he got into a car with a friend and a pistol to go there and help her out, Hanson said.

Deputies responded to Taylor’s house that night to find him dead on the floor inside, with two bullet wounds to his face, three in his back and a shotgun lying in his hand, Hanson said. Five shell casings were found at the scene: four near the front door and one near Taylor’s head.

When interviewed by law enforcement, Critchley said he saw Taylor point the shotgun at the bedroom where his mother was located at the time, then Critchley pulled out his pistol and shot Taylor, according to Hanson. Once Taylor fell, Critchley said he shot at him again several more times.

Critchley’s mother had a different perspective, Hanson said. She told investigators she never saw Taylor with a shotgun and that Taylor was sitting in a chair when Critchley told her to go outside.

Hanson also said it’s likely the shotgun was placed at the scene: it was unloaded and had no fingerprints on it. It also had no blood on it, while the scene was covered in blood, according to Campbell County Sheriff’s investigator Tracy Emerson.

Emerson added the position Taylor was lying in, partially on his side and with one arm positioned underneath him, didn’t seem like a natural position to fall into, from his experience.

Vernon Parrish, a gang investigator with the Lynchburg Police Department, testified about several photos and videos showed to the court as evidence from Critchley’s cellphone. Parrish said there were several gang signals from the Nine Trey Bloods evident on the phone — a “significant indicator” Critchley is a member of the gang.

He also pointed out a tattoo on Critchley’s arm in court that would put him at risk of violence if he wasn’t a member of the gang.

Kevin Bailey, who’s representing Critchley, asked for a $50,000 to $75,000 bond for his client, saying he had no reason to leave the area and would live with his family in Gretna.

Hanson argued Critchley is a “dangerous gang member” who staged a crime scene, adding the manner in which Taylor was shot “amounts to an execution.”

General District Court Judge Stephanie Maddox denied the bond request, finding him both a danger to the community and a flight risk.

Critchley is being held at the Amherst County Adult Detention Center and is next scheduled for a preliminary hearing Nov. 30.

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