The man accused of killing Robin and Mani Aldridge is now charged with capital murder in the commission of a robbery and robbing a residence.
On June 18, Gene Everett Washington and his attorney appeared in Charlottesville Circuit Court to learn the additional charges.
Investigators believe Washington beat the school teacher and her daughter to death and robbed their Rugby Avenue home before setting it on fire in December. He was initially charged with two counts of first degree murder.
Capital murder involves a crime in addition to the murder, such as rape, robbery or abduction, explains legal expert David Heilberg. “If there’s probable cause, [Commonwealth’s Attorney] Dave Chapman can take it to the grand jury and ask for capital murder indictments.”
Capital murder requires two defense attorneys, and there are only four local private lawyers certified to defend capital cases, says Heilberg, who is one of them, as is Washington’s attorney, Lloyd Snook. Washington also will get a state capital defender.
“There was a big hue and cry after the death penalty was reestablished in the ’70s and they’d appoint anyone to defend them,” says Heilberg. “You could get a real estate lawyer or a drunk. The law established attorneys must be certified.”
He also says that any experienced prosecutor knows better than to bring a weak capital case.