Friday, March 1, 2024

Farm Fresh gunman to remain in psychiatric hospital for at least another year

Brian Hicks (WYDaily/Courtesy of Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail)
Brian Hicks (WYDaily/Courtesy of Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail)

A 58-year-old Air Force veteran who shot a man to death in a James City County Farm Fresh grocery store in 2016 will remain hospitalized at a psychiatric facility.

At the recommendation of Central State Hospital, Brian Alexander Hicks, of Woodbridge, has been ordered to remain in treatment at least until his next court hearing on July 17, 2019.

Hicks did not appear for a hearing Wednesday in Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court. His attorney, Brandon Waltrip, did not object to the continued hospitalization.

On May 2, 2017, Hicks was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the April 17, 2016, shooting death of 34-year-old Gabriel Ryan Maness.

At next year’s hearing, a judge will again evaluate whether Hicks should remain hospitalized for additional treatment. The case will be reviewed annually.

The case

Hicks shot Maness — a Providence Forge resident and Army veteran — several times in the head and body in Aisle 6 of the store.

At his trial, psychologists testified that Hicks was mentally ill and in a state of psychosis during the shooting. They also said Hicks had a lengthy history of mental health issues, including two suicide attempts in 2015 and a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

At the time of the shooting, Hicks 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 Hicks needed to stop him, psychologists testified.


Wednesday’s order for continued treatment comes less than a week after a judge approved a settlement in an associated wrongful death case.

On Friday, a Circuit Court judge approved a $300,000 “compromise of claim,” which will go to Maness’ widow and two young daughters.

According to a July 12 report from the guardian ad litem for the Maness children, all parties agreed to the $300,000 settlement, which will be paid by Hicks’ personal liability provider, USAA.

The guardian said he believed Kristy Maness has a very close, affectionate bond with her daughters and appears to be acting in their best interests.

Of the settlement, $75,000 was paid to Kristy Maness’ law firm, Clancy & Walter — which was contractually agreed upon —  and $5,547 was paid to Kristy Maness for funeral expenses. The remainder was split between the two children.

USAA will provide Kristy Maness with the check within 14 days of the court’s July 13 order.

WYDaily archives were used in this story.

Sarah Fearing can be reached at

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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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