In brief: Dog lives matter, steakhouse speculation and more

Niko gets a stay of execution. 
Courtesy Prayers for Niko Niko gets a stay of execution. Courtesy Prayers for Niko

Totally cleared

Robert Davis is ready to "thrive and flourish" as a free man with his felony record expunged. Photo Ryan JonesRobert Davis, 32, spent 13 years in prison for a Crozet double slaying after making what experts call a textbook false confession. He was released a year ago on a conditional pardon and on December 16, the governor granted an absolute pardon, a rarity in Virginia. Read more.

Rumor of the week

Is Lampo opening a steakhouse in the downtown Bank of America building, where owner Hunter Craig has already confirmed a grilled meatery will be going? Lampo co-owner Loren Mendosa says, “That’s a popular rumor,” and declined to comment.

Last week’s rumor confirmed

Odds are pretty good that ice skating is not in the Main Street Arena’s future. Staff photo Quantitative Investment Management owner Jaffray Woodriff issued an official Payne Ross release acknowledging that an entity called Taliaferro Junction LLC is evaluating the Main Street Arena as a purchase for a 21st-century office building that will not house QIM.

Accounting for every penny

Charlottesville plans to award Belmont Bridge preliminary design and engineering to Kimley-Horn of Richmond, and negotiated the cost to $1,980,038.77, according to a release.

ABC not liable

A photo of Martese Johnson on the night of his bloody arrest went viral. Photo by Bryan Beaubrun
Photo by Bryan Beaubrun

A judge dropped the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control and Agent John Cielakie from Martese Johnson’s $3 million lawsuit stemming from his bloody 2015 arrest after he showed his real ID at Trinity Irish Pub and was turned away.

No more No. 15

UVA basketball star Malcolm Brogdon’s jersey is headed for the display cases and his number has been retired, making him the eighth Hoo to receive this honor. Brogdon is now a rookie for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Sad tidings

Christopher Spears, 22, of Waynesboro died in a single-car crash around 4am December 16 on U.S. 250 in Crozet in Albemarle’s sixth fatal crash this year.

Candy land

Photo Tom McGovern

From the initial blueprint to the cardboard model to the actual cookie construction, UVA Dining’s executive pastry chef Janice Benjamin takes building gingerbread houses to a new level. This year, she based her annual holiday work of art, which currently sits in the main lobby of the UVA Children’s Hospital, on everyone’s favorite movie of the season: Elf.

On the house: 304.5 hours of labor | 98 pieces of gingerbread |
60 pounds of royal icing | 6 pounds of cherry Twizzlers used on
the Empire State Building | 6 different kinds of licorice | 2 12-volt rechargeable wheelchair batteries to power the skating rink

Accused cat killer granted stay

Niko gets a stay of execution. Courtesy Prayers for Niko
Courtesy Pray for Niko

An Albemarle County pit bull named Niko, on doggie death row for allegedly attacking and killing a neighbor’s cat in 2014, has been granted a stay until January 18, when his owner will appeal Judge Cheryl Higgins’ order to execute him.

What was scheduled as Toni Stacy’s last visit with her pup at the Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA on December 18 turned into a protest attended by many sign-waving dog-lovers and an eventual celebration when Stacy received the news later that day.

The case has also attracted the attention of Against All Oddz Animal Alliance Inc., a Buffalo, New York, rescue organization that has offered to take Niko into its care. It is undecided whether the group will be allowed to gain custody of him.

Prayers for Niko/Niko Strong, a Facebook page for the pit’s supporters, has nearly 4,000 members. Kristy Hoover, a friend of Niko’s owners, created the group last October. “He’s just a typical dog,” she says. “He’s not vicious in any form.”

Stacy maintains that Niko did not attack the cat he’s charged with killing, but she posted on Facebook that “it’s all in God’s hands now.”

Quote of the week

It was such an amazing relief to have gotten the news and it was so favorable. It’s been a long, long journey. Attorney Steve Rosenfield upon hearing Governor Terry McAuliffe had granted Robert Davis an absolute pardon.

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