By Linda Cicoira
The suspect in the May 2019 homicide of Alvin Lee “Derek” Rogers, of Belle Haven, entered pleas of not guilty Thursday to premeditated murder, armed robbery, and related firearms offenses.
Bronta Jamar Ames, 24, of Killmontown Road, in Melfa, entered the pleas at an arraignment in Accomack Circuit Court. He has been in jail since he was arrested a short time after the offenses occurred. Ames was indicted on the charges in December 2019. Court records show trials were set and then continued twice, likely due to the pandemic. Ames wants a jury to decide his fate.
Judge W. Revell Lewis III, who presided over the arraignment, explained that due to COVID19, no jury trials are being permitted. “The Supreme Court has declared a state of emergency,” the latest of which expires “Oct. 10, or 11,” Lewis stated. Probably 100 or more courts have submitted plans for resumption of jury trials with “only four have been approved,” the judge continued. “This court has submitted a plan” but has not been notified of approval. “Speedy trials are not tolled during an emergency.”
The defendant came into the court room wearing a bandana-like mask that covered his nose, mouth, and beard. He was wearing a white jumpsuit and was remanded back to the custody of Accomack Sheriff Todd Wessells after the proceeding was conducted.Commonwealth’s Attorney Spencer Morgan and defense lawyer Garrett Dunham agreed to a Dec. 17 status hearing for the case. Lewis said criminal cases will take precedence over civil ones and that the court would endeavor to set a trial date as soon as possible.
After a report of shots being fired on Boggs Road in Painter were made to the sheriff’s office, deputies found the body of Rogers, 40, of Mill Run Lane, inside a vehicle there. He died from a gunshot wound to the torso, according to the medical examiner’s office.
Court records also state when Investigator Meghan Patterson arrived on the scene, she saw “the deceased had what appeared to be a bullet wound in his chest and there appeared to be bullet holes in the windshield of the vehicle.”
Allison Stauffer of Keller was charged last October with being an accessory to murder and robbery in connection with Rogers’ death. The accessory charge involves “receiving, relieving, comforting, or assisting Ames after knowing that such person had committed a homicide offense punishable by death or as a Class 2 felony.” She was also charged with being an accessory before the fact in an attempt to rob Rogers of marijuana by “putting the victim in fear of serious bodily harm, threats or by presenting a firearm or other deadly weapon.”