Split decision: Shooter gets bond, alleged assailant doesn’t

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KKK imperial wizard Richard Wilson Preston is charged with firing a gun August 12.
ACLU video KKK imperial wizard Richard Wilson Preston is charged with firing a gun August 12. ACLU video

 

Two ponytailed Unite the Right participants represented by the same Blairs, Virginia-based lawyer had different fates in their January 4 bond hearings in Charlottesville Circuit Court.

Judge Humes Franklin granted 52-year-old Baltimore resident Richard Preston, an imperial wizard of the Confederate White Knights of the KKK who was filmed firing a gun during the August 12 Unite the Right rally, a $50,000 cash bond with the instruction to not leave the state, possess a firearm or “engage in any assemblies, if you will.”

Defense attorney Elmer Woodard called on Billy Snuffer Sr., the imperial wizard of the Rebel Brigade Knights of the True Invisible Empire, who testified he had a “trailer down on the farm” in Martinsville, where he would allow Preston to live pending his three-day trial in May.

Snuffer, who told the judge he owns Snuffer’s Auto Repair in Buchanan, offered to give Preston a job while out on bond, but it is unclear whether the judge will allow Preston to leave the trailer for matters other than court and to meet with his attorney, who also represents several other white nationalists, including “Crying Nazi” Chris Cantwell.

In a separate hearing on the same day, Jacob Goodwin, a 22-year-old from Arkansas who allegedly participated in the Market Street Parking Garage beatdown of DeAndre Harris, was denied his shot at getting out of jail.

Goodwin, wearing all-black clothing, black goggles, a helmet and carrying a shield on August 12, can be identified in widely circulated videos of the attack, but Woodard told the judge his client was simply walking to his car in the garage when he encountered two groups of people “exercising their First Amendment rights with great vigor,” and unintentionally became involved in the scuffle.

“I was walking and DeAndre Harris come sprinting at me,” Goodwin testified. “He come at me, kind of bounced off my shield and I kicked him.”

On a small scrap of paper, Woodard offered to the judge an address apparently near Richmond where a friend identified by the prosecution as Eric Davis had invited Goodwin to live, if granted bond.

When Franklin asked how long Goodwin had known the Central Virginia resident, the Arkansas man first said four months, but quickly changed his answer to about a year. No one could determine whether Goodwin’s friend, whom he said he met at a “political meeting” in Kentucky and roomed with in hotels, lived in a house or apartment near Richmond, or whether he has a criminal record.

As Franklin was in the process of denying the request for bond, Matthew Heimbach—a co-founder of the Traditionalist Worker Party and Holocaust denier often considered to be the face of a new generation of white nationalists—approached the defense and whispered for several seconds before a deputy ordered him to sit down.

“Apparently someone in the courtroom has the answer to your questions,” interjected Woodard, but the ruling had already been made, Heimbach had already retaken his seat next to Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler and Franklin said he was done with that hearing for the day.

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