Commonwealth’s attorney reflects on Rozdilski verdict


LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Bethany Harrison, the Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Lynchburg, says it’s a disappointing loss, that Austin Rozdilski was found not guilty of second degree murder. She points to the lack of eyewitnesses in the case.

Only the defendant and the surviving victim, Justin Barnett, saw what happened.

She says it came down to whose version of events the jury believed.

Ultimately, the jury found him not guilty of murder, and Harrison says that likely means the jury believed the self-defense argument.

The defendant claimed both victims had guns, and he described the fight he had with Dre’yon Browley that motivated him to shoot.

“His claims about the way he shot Dre’yon Bradley, in our opinion, did not match the trajectory of the bullets that were found in his body,” said Harrison. “We explored every avenue that we could to build a strong case, and that is what we can guarantee folks, is that we will fight hard for them no matter the outcome. We’ve had disappointing outcomes like this before, and it never stops being heartbreaking, but we will continue to fight, and we will continue to fight for justice for our victims of crime.”

The defendant was found guilty of unlawful wounding, reduced version of the malicious wounding charge.

Malicious wounding is defined as having bad intentions.

Unlawful wounding means the person charged was provoked, but reacted excessively.

According to Harrison, the unlawful wounding charge comes with a possible 0-1 year in jail or 1-5 years in penitentiary.

Sentencing is scheduled for January 6.

Harrison says the judge can decide one of three things:

  1. Send Rozdilski to the Department of Juvenile Justice
  2. Send him to the adult penitentiary
  3. Do a combination of the two, sending him to Juvenile Justice until not later than his 21st birthday, then to the penitentiary for the remainder of the sentence

Harrison says Juvenile Justice has rehabilitation programs that are not available in the penitentiary.

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