Sunday, December 10, 2023

Hicks committed to Central State following not guilty by insanity verdict

Brian Hicks (Courtesy of Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail)

A man found not guilty by reason of insanity of shooting a 34-year-old veteran in a James City County grocery store will spend at least the next year at a Virginia psychiatric facility.

Brian Hicks, 56, of Woodbridge, appeared briefly in the Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court Tuesday morning for a case review, determining whether he should be hospitalized, conditionally released or freed into the community.

Judge Michael McGinty committed Hicks to inpatient treatment after reading a June 14 report from Central State Hospital, which suggests the 56-year-old remain hospitalized.

Hicks, who came to court wearing blue dress pants and a red polo shirt, has been at Central State, in Petersburg, since his May 2 trial. Hicks was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the April 17, 2016 shooting death of 34-year-old Gabriel Maness.

Hicks shot Maness, an Army veteran, several times in the head and body while Maness was shopping in aisle six at a Farm Fresh in Norge, located at 115 Norge Lane.

Psychologists previously testified Hicks was mentally ill and in a state of psychosis at the time of the shooting, and believed he was a member of law enforcement.

Hicks will reappear in the circuit court in one year, on July 18, 2018 at 1 p.m., for another case review to determine whether he should continue with inpatient treatment.

Both Commonwealth’s Attorney Nate Green and defense attorney Brandon Waltrip agreed the report’s recommendation of inpatient treatment was appropriate.

Following the judge’s ruling, Waltrip put his hand on Hicks’ shoulder, leaned down and spoke briefly to him, handing him a business card.

After court, Waltrip told WYDaily the hospital has a “tentative” treatment plan for Hicks, although treatment plans may change over time.

Psychologists’ testimony at Hicks’ trial revealed a lengthy history of mental health issues, including two suicide attempts in 2015 and a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

Gabriel “Gabe” Ryan Maness (left) with his wife Kristy Maness (Photo courtesy of Rick Maness)

In the week leading up to the shooting, Hicks experienced psychosis and made unusual statements to coworkers, witnesses testified May 2.

At the time of the shooting, Hicks, an Air Force veteran, appeared to believe he was a member of law enforcement. He believed Maness, a father and husband, was going to engage in a criminal act, and he needed to stop him, psychologists testified.

Hicks remained in the store after the shooting, police testified May 2. He was armed with a .45 caliber handgun and had two additional loaded magazines in his pocket at the time of his arrest.

Maness’ wife, Kristy, is suing Hicks in civil court for the wrongful death of her husband, according to court documents. She is seeking $5.35 million in damages for “sorrow, mental anguish, and loss of solace” and other financial damages.

The case is listed as active, although there are no future court hearings scheduled.

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Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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