Charges were dismissed after a preliminary trial last Wednesday against an Orange County man in the death of Brian Keith Dudley, who was killed in July in Stanardsville.
Dudley was shot multiple times in his vehicle along Dundee Road near its intersection with Fredericksburg Road on July 10.
Robert Lee Webster, 41, of Orange County was arrested by the Greene County Sheriff’s Office on Oct. 4 and charged with conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree.
Greene County General District Judge Hon. Matthew Quatrara dismissed the case against Webster after a nearly two-hour preliminary trial on Nov. 27.
“The court has no doubt that the investigators in this case have worked incredibly hard amassing copious amounts of evidence that’s been presented to the court,” Judge Quatrara said. “Based on the testimony of those investigators and additional work … additional evidence is likely yet to come. The court doesn’t have that evidence before it today and the court can’t find some scintilla of evidence ... that probable cause has been met with regards to the statute under which the defendant is charged.”
Webster’s wife hugged defense attorney Paul Galanides outside with tears streaming down her face; however, she had no comment about the decision.
Dudley’s family was unavailable for comment following the hearing.
Judge Quatrara did not dismiss the charges “with prejudice,” meaning the commonwealth may bring them again in the future, though the commonwealth’s attorney was unavailable after the hearing, as well.
Greene County Sheriff Sgt. Barry Leake testified that he arrived on the scene on Dundee Road around 4:40 p.m. on July 10 and saw Dudley slumped in his seat with blood dripping out of his left ear and two bullet holes in the driver’s side door. The engine was off and window rolled down. He said there were three shell casings found on the asphalt and one in the grass and no guns or drugs were found on the scene.
The call for service came at 4:31 p.m., Leake said.
Investigator Lonnie Tuthill, crime scene investigator for the sheriff’s office, said two cell phones were located in the vehicle. Tuthill testified all the shell casings were 9 mm but could not recall if they were from the same manufacturer.
Lead investigator Scott Murphy testified there were numerous phone calls between the victim and Webster, both leading up to July 10 and on the day of the murder. The last call to Dudley’s phone was made by a number registered to Webster at 4:16 p.m. the day of Dudley’s death, Murphy said.
Murphy noted that both phones were in close proximity to the crime scene during the final phone call, according to cell tower records.
“It did not determine whether or not the defendant had that phone on July 10?” Galanides asked Murphy.
“Every time we conducted surveillance, Mr. Webster had his phone,” Murphy said.
A second phone found at the scene is at the FBI lab, Murphy said.
Judge Quatrara said no evidence presented showed another person with whom Webster agreed to commit the crime.
“It is certainly suspicious as Mr. Galanides concedes, but Cosby v. Commonwealth (court of appeals) educates lower courts like this court that shared intent cannot be inferred by close proximity,” Judge Quatrara said.
Sheriff Steven Smith did not return calls for comment by press time.