Charges dropped against man accused of raping woman in parked car, case could move to higher court

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christopher-johnson
Christopher Johnson (Courtesy VPRJ)

Prosecutors dropped two felony charges Thursday against a man accused of raping and strangling a woman in a parked car with the hopes to indict him to a higher court in March.

The case will be presented to a grand jury March 15 with the goal to indict Christopher Johnson, 31, on rape and strangulation charges, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Laura McVay said in the Williamsburg-James City County General District Court Thursday.

If the grand jury indicts him, the case will move from the general district court to circuit court.

Johnson is accused of raping and strangling a woman in a parked car last August on Cokes Lane in James City County, police said.

According to the criminal complaint, the victim had previously dated Johnson, and agreed to meet with him in Williamsburg on Aug. 17. They went to a laundromat, Cook Out drive-thru and the Norge Farm Fresh, where they bought Black & Mild cigars and alcohol.

After going to the Farm Fresh, Johnson had the victim drive to the end of Cokes Lane, where they kissed. The victim allowed him to kiss her, but said she did not want to have sex with him when he asked her, the criminal complaint said.

The complaint continues, saying Johnson proceeded to choke the victim until she became lightheaded. He then punched her in the left cheek, which stunned her, and turned her over and raped her, the criminal complaint states.

Before making a motion to  drop the two felonies, McVay made a motion to continue the case until March 14.

She candidly told Judge Colleen Killilea she intended to nolle pross, or drop, the charges March 14 and then present the case to a grand jury the following day, looking for a direct indictment to bring him to circuit court, she said. If charges are nolle prossed, prosecutors will not pursue them unless new evidence comes to light.

She added she was asking for the continuance to avoid Johnson’s release from prison.

Killilea denied McVay’s motion for a continuance, so McVay made a motion to nolle pross the charges Thursday instead. Killilea granted the motion to drop the charges.

Although the charges were dropped, Killilea told Johnson’s attorney, Virginia L. Major, to expect a direct indictment March 15.

Johnson will no longer be held at the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail on the Williamsburg charges, but is facing a charge in New Kent County for an alleged probation violation last June.

It is unclear if he will be released or transferred to another jail for the pending New Kent matters. A message left with Johnson’s attorney requesting information on his release was not immediately returned Thursday morning.

The probation violation charge stems from an original conviction of abduction in New Kent Circuit Court in November 2011.

A second charge from the same case, rape by force or threat, was dropped as part of a plea agreement, according to online court records.

McVay told the court the victim of the alleged rape has moved out of state, but has been in close contact with prosecutors. The victim intends to testify, but McVay said she may not be able to come back to the area on short notice because of employment in her new location.

WYDaily archives were used in this story.