Judge allows two pages of former investigator’s personnel file into road rage shooting case

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

A two-page summary of a sheriff’s office investigation into one of its own investigators will be open for both prosecutors and the defense to use in a case against a man accused of shooting two people during an alleged road rage incident.

York-Poquoson Circuit Court Judge Richard Rizk said in court Tuesday he felt two pages from the personnel file of York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office Investigator Deborah Winzel could be relevant in a case against Jonathan Ray McDonald, 29.

Wenzel, a former investigator who investigated the alleged road rage shooting, is no longer employed with the sheriff’s office due to “credibility issues,” defense attorney Patricia Nagel has said in several court appearances.

While there was “nothing in the records that related to Mr. McDonald’s case” and the charges against him, Rizk said the two pages he pulled from the file could be relevant to questions of Wenzel’s credibility.

McDonald, who is from Spotsylvania, is accused of shooting a woman in the head and another man in the face, near his eyebrow, beside the Mooretown Road overpass on Route 199 on June 4.

The woman, who had been driving, sustained life-threatening injuries and was airlifted to Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, police said. Both the woman and man survived the encounter.

Rizk told Nagel and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jacob Lambert the defense and Commonwealth Attorney are allowed access to the two-page summary to determine whether or not Wenzel’s credibility is in question.

Sheriff’s office spokesman Lt. Dennis Ivey confirmed Jan. 26 that Wenzel resigned from her position with the sheriff’s office Jan. 3.

Rizk said he received Wenzel’s personnel file from the sheriff’s office Jan. 30 and reviewed the file in camera, meaning privately, to determine if any parts of the file could pertain to the McDonald case.

Rizk specified that the two pages cannot be copied or disseminated by either the prosecution or defense, only reviewed in person.

Nagel told Rizk she was “not satisfied” with seeing only two pages of the file, because there may be other discussions, meetings or information that led to her departure beyond the investigation.

Nagel also questioned why she was not told about Wenzel’s “credibility issues” until Jan. 25, 22 days after Wenzel left the sheriff’s office, and questioned a discrepancy in the dates the court is said to have received the personnel file.

According to an email from the sheriff’s office custodian of records, the file was delivered to the court Feb. 6. Both Rizk and Lambert said the court received the file Jan. 30.

The news about the two-page summary’s availability to attorneys was announced during a motions hearing scheduled for Tuesday morning.

Rizk denied all five of Nagel’s motions during McDonald’s court appearance, which was attended by his mother and wife.

“They don’t want justice, they just want a conviction,” said McDonald’s mother, Terry Thacker, after the court hearing.

Nagel renewed a Jan. 26 motion asking for the social security numbers of the victims and witnesses so she could access their full criminal background.

She also renewed a second motion from Jan. 26 requesting case information for a North Carolina criminal case involving witnesses that occurred two weeks prior to the alleged shooting.

“The defendant is entitled to present a complete defense,” Nagel said.

The third motion asked the court to issue a show cause for both the James City County County Attorney, Adam Kinsman, and the custodian of records for James City County, because Kinsman “intercepted” subpoenaed emergency records regarding the incident.

Nagel addressed the fourth motion, which Rizk reserved ruling on the last time McDonald appeared in court.

The motion asked to preclude witnesses from testifying about anything beyond what they are presently feeling. At a court appearance Jan. 26, Nagel said it would be considered heresay because they were told the information by someone else, such as a doctor.

Rizk denied her motion again Tuesday, restating he would reserve the ruling until witnesses testify during McDonald’s trial.

Nagel said she still plans to prepare an extraordinary writ — a means to allow a court to review an issue that could not be adequately addressed through the typical appeals process — about a previously denied motion requesting medical records, and submit it to the Virginia Supreme Court.

Lastly, Nagel asked the judge to put a time restriction on the discovery order, an order that enables both prosecutors and the defense to share evidence they obtain before the trial.

“We have the right to call for evidence in our favor,” Nagel said.

Nagel requested the commonwealth attorney share all evidence they compile at least 30 days prior to the trial. The current order has no time restrictions, except the evidence must be shared with the defense before the trial. Rizk denied the discovery motion Tuesday. 

“It’s got to go both ways,” Thacker said of the denied motion. “If the Commonwealth’s Attorney has it, she should have it, too.”

McDonald is scheduled to appear again in court April 6 at 10:30 a.m. for a check status hearing.

McDonald is also facing an assault charge in the Williamsburg-James City County General District Court for allegedly grabbing and hitting another inmate Dec. 26 in the F block housing unit at the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail.

His trial in Williamsburg is scheduled for March 31 at 10:30 a.m.

WYDaily archives were used in this story.

Fearing can be reached at sarah.f@localvoicemedia.com.