Plea deal in Hopewell killing
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Mar 14, 2014, 13:11
HOPEWELL — In what started as a Father’s Day party in Hopewell, turned deadly when one man was beaten to death on the front lawn.
On June 16 of last year, Hopewell police responded to the 1600 block of Old Iron Road for reports of a fight in progress. Upon arrival, police located a male victim lying on the ground. The victim, later identified as Burton Revish, of Petersburg, was transported to Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center where he died from his injuries.
At the time of the incident, Hopewell Police said they believed there were several people involved in the fight.
Joseph Claiborne, 27, also of Petersburg, was charged with second-degree murder and taken into custody at Riverside Regional Jail. In the month before the trial was scheduled to take place, the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office in Hopewell, along with defense attorneys involved in the case, reached a plea agreement.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Richard Newman said the problem with this case, along with many others in the city, was a lack of witnesses coming forward with information.
The witness for the prosecution, who also brought Revish to the party in the city, was able to speak on the fight but was still not able to identify “who did what” during the altercation between the two men.
The incident between the two men began earlier in the evening. According to Newman, Revish was going through the pockets of Claiborne while he was passed out at the party. When Claiborne came to, the two got into a fist fight. Newman said Revish was “getting the best” of Claiborne during the fight.
Revish walked away from the fight to get into the car with the woman who brought him to the party. Before she could pull off, Revish got out of the car and went back to continue fighting with Claiborne. Though still unclear of the exact number, it was during the second altercation when other party-goers began to join in the fight.
After an investigation, Newman said there were as many as four to six people involved. He said neither his office nor the police department were able to get names of the others involved in the fight, except for Jarvis Jackson.
According to court records, Jackson was arrested on Sept. 8 of last year and charged with murder by mob. On March 5 in Hopewell Circuit Court, Jackson pleaded guilty, as part of the plea agreement to voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to 10 years in jail, with nine years and six months suspended.
On that same day in Hopewell Circuit Court, Claiborne also entered into a plea agreement. He pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 10 years in prison with five years suspended. The charge of murder by mob, lynching, was nolle prossed, or set aside.
It was also ordered through the plea agreement for both men to make restitution “jointly, severally with the codefendant,” in the amount of $7,568.50.
Claiborne has had several prior convictions, which include two prior felony convictions and seven prior misdemeanor convictions. Since 2006, the charges include trespassing, destruction of property, assault and battery, discharging a firearm in a public place, disorderly conduct and numerous charges of driving on a suspended license and other driving-related charges.
“You either go forward with the case and lose or get something out of it,” Newman said of the decision to enter into a plea agreement with both defendants.
Newman said in addition to the issue of not getting witnesses to come forward and testify, there was also a lack of scientific evidence in the case. There was blood on Revish’s clothing that matched Claiborne’s. There was also a footprint on Revish’s body, however that was not a match to Claiborne.
A reward from the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office was offered for anyone who took a video of the fight at the party. Despite the money offer, Newman said no one came forward. He also indicated that the party, which was a Father’s Day party, was comprised mostly of family members. He said many of the people involved in the incident were connected in some way shape or form.
“Am I happy with the outcome? No,” Newman said in the days following the plea agreement. “I’m outraged about it. If the citizen’s don’t step forward, there’s not a whole lot my office or the police can do.”