York County Accidental Shooting Trial Delayed; Suspect to Face Jury

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Brandon Bartlett (Courtesy Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail)
Brandon Bartlett (Courtesy Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail)

The trial against a man accused of fatally shooting a man he says he mistook for a deer has been delayed until December.

Brandon Bartlett, a 21-year-old York County resident charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of former James City County Supervisor David W. Ware Jr., initially opted for a bench trial but York-Poquoson Circuit Court Judge Rich Rizk granted the prosecution’s request for a jury trial.

The trial is now set to begin Dec. 3.

Citing the media coverage the case has received and the close-knit community in which the incident occurred, Hahn also requested a larger pool of potential jurors to be summoned to help fill the jury with citizens who do not have ties to neither the victim nor the defendant and have not been unduly influenced by the coverage.

Rizk ordered a pool of 75 potential jurors.

A motions hearing has been scheduled for Nov. 19, as both sides agree to “many of the facts” of the case, Hahn said. The November hearing will allow the defense and prosecution to formally establish an agreement on those facts to help the December trial move more quickly.

Bartlett is accused of shooting Ware, a 68-year-old man who lived in a nearby home, in the Bartletts’ backyard on the 1900 block of Lakeside Drive on Dec. 19.

Authorities said Ware was out hunting a fox that had been killing chickens in the area when he passed through Bartlett’s backyard and was fatally shot in the upper body.

Bartlett told investigators he mistook Ware for a deer when he spotted him moving through the marsh reeds around his home.

Upon discovering his mistake, Bartlett contacted the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office to report the shooting. Though authorities found Bartlett attempting to perform CPR on Ware when they arrived on the scene, Ware was already dead of a single gunshot wound to the chest.

York-Poquoson Sheriff J.D. “Danny” Diggs previously confirmed Bartlett would have been within his rights to shoot a deer on his property, insofar as the incident took place during deer hunting season and discharging a rifle greater than a .22-caliber in a rural residential neighborhood for hunting purposes is completely legal.

“The push with this case is the shooter was reckless in that he had no idea where he was shooting,” Diggs said around the time of the incident.

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