Defense attorney asks for dismissal of several charges in road rage shooting

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Suspected shooter Jonathan Ray McDonald, of Spotsylvania, Va.(Rappahannock Regional Jail)
Jonathan Ray McDonald, of Spotsylvania, Va.(Rappahannock Regional Jail)

A defense attorney has made a motion to dismiss all but three charges against a man accused of shooting two people in a York County road rage incident in June.

Jonathan Ray McDonald, 29, of Spotsylvania, is charged with two counts of aggravated malicious wounding, two charges of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, shooting a firearm from a vehicle, maliciously shooting at an occupied vehicle, felony hit and run and felony destruction of property.

Police believe McDonald shot a woman in the head and another man in the face, near his eyebrow, during a road rage shooting June 4.

Police said the incident started at the Mooretown Road overpass on Route 199, driving toward Interstate 64. Around 8:50 p.m. the same night, a sheriff’s deputy parked at York Fire Station 5 was approached by a vehicle and was told two of its occupants had been shot during a possible road rage incident.

The woman who had been driving sustained life-threatening injuries and was airlifted to Virginia Commonwealth Medical Center, according to police. The woman survived the incident.

A motion made Jan. 17 by McDonald’s attorney, Patricia Nagel, requests the two charges of aggravated malicious wounding, two charges of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and a charge of felony hit and run be dismissed by a circuit court judge.

The motion was filed with four additional motions in the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office Tuesday morning.

In the motion for dismissal, Nagel argues that “the elements of aggravated malicious wounding can be established only by expert medical professions … There is no indication that the Commonwealth intends to obtain the medical reports.” In another motion, Nagel said McDonald had requested access to certain evidence on Oct. 27, including the two alleged victims’ medical records. In response, the prosecution said they did not have the victims’ medical records and, therefore, could not provide them to the defense, the motion stated.

“Because the Commonwealth is unable to sustain the elements of aggravated malicious wounding without this evidence, and there is no indication it will have such evidence, those indictments must be dismissed,” the motion stated. “Likewise, the two counts of use of a firearm in the commission thereof must be dismissed, as well as the charge of felony hit and run, which requires medical testimony of injury.”

The four other motions filed Jan. 17 involve the alleged victim’s medical records, what certain witnesses can testify about regarding physical injuries and possible criminal backgrounds of prosecution’s witnesses.

In the second motion, Nagel and McDonald requested access to the medical records of the man and woman who police say were shot by McDonald. The defense had previously filed requests for the medical records Oct. 27 and Dec. 29, but were told the prosecution did not have the medical records and could not provide them to the defense.

The third motion, if granted by a judge, would prevent witnesses from testifying beyond the legal boundaries of a “lay witness,” meaning they would not be able to testify about diagnosis, cause, treatment or the prognosis of injuries.

The motion argues that any injury information the witness testifies to, with the exception of the way they are feeling presently during the trial, could be considered hearsay because they were told the information – such as the diagnosis, cause, treatment or the prognosis of injuries – by someone else such as a doctor.

“Such evidence must be presented by the medical examiners themselves to the extent their expert testimony is admissible,” the motion says.

The fourth motion requests Nagel be provided with the victims’ birthdates and social security numbers, so the defense can find prior charges or convictions against the alleged victims. The fifth motions requests the Commonwealth Attorney disclose the entire evidence of facts regarding a criminal incident last June that one of the victims had been charged in.

The June 17 incident occurred in North Carolina. One of the alleged victims in the McDonald case, as well as three other men, were charged after police found a stolen firearm and marijuana in a vehicle they were in. The charges were dropped against three of the accused, including the alleged victim in the road rage shooting in York County, after one of the individuals took responsibility for the gun and marijuana.

“Any witness who testifies at a trial or hearing puts his or her credibility into issue,” the motion states. The motion cited several statements made in previous court hearings which suggest witnesses have prior criminal charges or convictions.

A circuit court judge will consider the motions Jan. 26 at 9 a.m. in the York County Circuit Court.

In court Tuesday, Circuit Court Judge Richard Rizk said the court will likely set a trial date when McDonald appears in court Jan. 26.

Fearing can be reached by phone at 207-975-5459.