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In the last weeks of 2015, WYDaily took a look back at the year in news with overviews of stories from James City County, York County, the City of Williamsburg, York County School Division, Williamsburg-James City County Schools, high school sports and more.
But which stories had readers clicking and sharing when they first published?
Below is a listing of the 10 crime and public safety stories WYDaily published that received the most pageviews in 2015. Click here for a breakdown of WYDaily’s most read general news stories.
10. The cheerleading coach for Queens Lake Middle School, Shelby Pressley, died in November crash in which her car flipped off an Interstate 64 bridge near Richmond and into a ravine. Pressley was driving a Toyota Sequoia when she ran off the road to the left and struck the barrier wall, which overturned the car. In addition to coaching cheerleaders, Pressley worked for Lumber Liquidators and also as an EMT. She was the mother of two young children.
9. Four teenagers and an adult were arrested in October in connection with the June rape of a 16-year-old girl in Quarterpath Park that was recorded by the accused. The girl reported she was hanging out with friends at the park when she and a male friend decided to take a walk into a wooded area. She said they were then surrounded by four others, all males, and two of them raped her while the others watched and recorded it. Three of the four juveniles charged in the case have pleaded guilty; the fourth juvenile has a hearing scheduled for February. The adult, 20-year-old Korey Alexander Gemmiti, will have his case put in front of a grand jury on Jan. 20.
8. A suspected drug dealer, who police had surveilled for about a month before obtaining a search warrant, was arrested after the search yielded more than $14,000 in cash and about a pound-and-a-half of marijuana. Toano resident Rashad Fitz Byrd, who was 27 at the time of his arrest, pleaded guilty to felony possession of marijuana with intent to sell. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Feb. 24.
7. Williamsburg Police arrested three people in connection with an August armed robbery and abduction on Merrimac Trail. A man reported three people – two men and one woman – abducted him and his girlfriend at gunpoint from their apartment and demanded they withdraw cash from at an ATM from a nearby Wawa. Police arrested Derrick Antoine Smith, 34, of Richmond; Tajaddin Ismael Fardan Daily, 31, of Richmond; and Jameka L. Smith, 33, of Henrico. Derrick Smith entered into a plea deal with the prosecution; he pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Jameka Smith in her upcoming trial. Jameka Smith is scheduled for trial Jan. 26. Daily’s trial is scheduled for Jan. 21.
6. A James City County woman died in a two-car crash on Windsormeade Way – near Monticello Avenue – as she drove from the stop near Martin’s gas station toward the shopping center that houses PetSmart. Nena Abernathy, 63, was transported Abernathy to Riverside Regional Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.
5. Christopher Parris Cabral, 31, is suspected of attacking a woman who was jogging along Richmond Road in September. The jogger told police a man grabbed her from behind, and she fought back in an attempt to avoid a stun gun he directed at her. During her testimony at Cabral’s preliminary hearing, in which his case was moved along to the grand jury, the accuser said he pushed her down behind bushes, where he restricted her ability to breathe, demanded money and valuables, and inappropriately touched her. A grand jury will decide Jan. 20 whether the case against Cabral moves to trial.
4. A 47-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene of a single-vehicle crash in Lanexa. James Terrell Cowles, of James City County, died after being ejected from his car that was traveling east on Richmond Road “at a high rate of speed,” according to James City County Police.
3. Toano-based Lumber Liquidators had been making headlines before 2015 for accusations it violated federal law by importing wood harvested from the habitat of an endangered tiger. In March, 60 Minutes covered the scandal, driving readers to WYDaily’s past and continued coverage. In the ensuing months, the lumber company suspended the sale of the Chinese laminate flooring in question and its CEO resigned. Lumber Liquidators pleaded guilty to federal charges in October to importing hardwood flooring that had been illegally logged in the world’s only habitat for Siberian tigers and Amur leopards. The plea agreement calls for Toano-based Lumber Liquidators to pay $13.15 million, the largest penalty ever levied for timber trafficking under the Lacey Act.
2. In May, an 84-year-old man died in a four-car crash when his car overturned after it struck an unmarked state police K-9 unit that was stopped at the traffic light at the intersection of Monticello Avenue and the entrance to Monticello Marketplace. Donald Lee Howard, of Ashland, was pronounced dead at the scene.
1. Colonial Williamsburg’s official website was among several American sites hit during a cyberattack attributed to ISIS, with the attack coming about a week after the living history museum offered to house artifacts at risk of destruction in Iraq. The attack hit the history.org website.