Sunday, October 1, 2023

Man accused of murdering mother argues constitutional violations on day of his arrest

Michael Alan Webb (Courtesy VPRJ)
Michael Alan Webb (Courtesy VPRJ)

After an almost three-hour-long court appearance Monday, a Williamsburg judge denied several motions suggesting the constitutional rights of a man who allegedly killed his mother were violated on the day of his arrest.

Michael Alan Webb, 35, of James City County, filed motions earlier this month claiming police detained him without reading him Miranda rights on May 17, the same day police found his mother dead in her kitchen.

During Monday’s hearing, Webb, who is now representing himself, detailed theories that police officers had committed perjury. He also argued that no witnesses had been able to place him at the scene of Edna Webb’s murder, and that he was “an innocent man.”

“You’re deflecting valid points I’m making,” Webb said to Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court Judge Michael McGinty. “I’m the victim; my mother was murdered.”

Webb said police violated his fourth and 14th amendment rights by entering his mother’s house without a search warrant. Because he claimed the entry was unlawful, he filed a motion to suppress any evidence gathered by police in the house.

Webb also said he was unlawfully detained because he was not read his Miranda rights before being taken into custody.

McGinty denied both motions, saying the police officers’ actions were constitutional.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Nate Green called four police officers to the stand to testify Monday to prove there were “exigent circumstances” and a “true emergency” that allowed officers to enter the house without a warrant.

James City County Police were called to 1877 Ferrell Drive in the Grove area of James City County around 9:45 a.m.

Coworkers of Edna Webb called police after failing multiple times to get in touch with her. The 64-year-old did not appear for an 8:15 a.m. shift at Eastern State Hospital, which was unusual, according to a memorandum in opposition filed by Green.

When officers went to check on her around 10 a.m., she did not answer, Master Police Officer Brandon Frantz testified Monday. After hearing what he believed to be movement inside, Frantz and Investigator Jason Slodysko entered the house together.

The officers found Webb’s body wrapped in blankets on the kitchen floor. An autopsy report reveals her cause of death to be asphyxia due to manual strangulation and suffocation.

After confirming she was dead, officers worked to figure out whether anyone was still in the house. Frantz and Slodysko waited until a SWAT team could arrive because a blind corner at the top of the stairs prevented them from clearing the house safely, Frantz testified.

About an hour later, the SWAT team cleared the house.

A James City County crime scene force prepares a stretcher to remove the body of Edna Webb from her residence in May 2017. Her son now stands accused of her murder. (Sarah Fearing/WYDaily)
A James City County crime scene force prepares a stretcher to remove the body of Edna Webb from her residence in May 2017. Her son now stands accused of her murder. (Sarah Fearing/WYDaily)

At 1:46 p.m., a magistrate issued a search warrant for the house. Before that time, no officers collected evidence, according to Investigator Jake Rice.

After the SWAT team cleared the house, Lt. Steve Humphries responded to a report that Webb might be at the Happy Shopper store on Pocahontas Trail, about 1.5 miles away from his mother’s house.

Humphries went to the scene and found Webb outside the store with a woman. The woman was on the phone with dispatch, which Humphries said he found “ironic” because she was also with Webb.

The officer approached Webb, asking him if they could speak at the police station. Webb was compliant and agreed, Humphries testified.

James City County Police on the scene of Edna Webb's homicide at Brookside Haven subdivision in May 2017 (Sarah Fearing/WYDaily)
James City County Police on the scene of Edna Webb’s homicide at Brookside Haven subdivision in May 2017 (Sarah Fearing/WYDaily)

Officers then detained Webb and brought him to the James City County Law Enforcement Center, where he was read his Miranda rights and interviewed. He was arrested and charged after the interview.

The “totality of the circumstances” revolving around Webb’s life with his mother made him a person of interest in the case, Humphries said.

Officers had previously been dispatched to the Webb residence and were aware his mother had been trying to evict him from the house

Webb’s case is scheduled for trial March 27 in the Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court.

Attorney Christopher Voltin will be on-hand as a standby attorney to support Webb if he desires.

Correction: The original version of this article said “Goff Voltin” is Webb’s standby defense attorney. Voltin’s first name is Christopher.

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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