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February 14, 2018

Update: Sentencing slated April 16 on manslaughter

Richard T. MacDonald called the victim’s father after seeing the body the next morning, according to his defense attorney.
This guy is quiet as a church mouse. He’s a guy that stays pretty much to himself. From people we’ve talked, nobody has said that there’s anything in his history or background that suggests aggression.
— Blair Howard, Warrenton defense attorney
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
The man who pleaded guilty Wednesday to voluntary manslaughter in the shooting and stabbing death of a longtime friend near Warrenton last year faces sentencing in April.

Richard T. MacDonald pleaded guilty in Fauquier County Circuit Court to killing Larry Walker, 56, and one count using a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Mr. MacDonald, 65, will be sentenced Monday, April 16.

A former Warrenton Safeway employee, he could get up to 10 years in prison for manslaughter and up to five years for the weapons charge.

Mr. MacDonald and Mr. Walker drank heavily the night before the Feb. 19, 2017, incident.

The killing took place in Mr. MacDonald’s home on Turkey Run Road, just southeast of town. Mr. MacDonald rented the house from the victim’s parents.

His mother, sister and brother, who attended Wednesday’s hearing, refused to discuss the case.

Warrenton resident George “Dink” Godfrey, who also attend the 10-minute hearing, declined comment.

Mr. Godfrey, who has known Mr. MacDonald for more than 40 years, will testify on his friend’s behalf during the sentencing hearing.

Warrenton lawyer Blair D. Howard, who represents Mr. MacDonald, said at least four “character” witnesses will testify.

The prosecution expects to call one or two people to testify against Mr. MacDonald during the hearing, Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Jamey Cook said.


Story published Tuesday, Feb. 13:


The defendant on Wednesday plans to plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the shooting and stabbing death of a longtime friend and neighbor near Warrenton about a year ago.

Richard T. MacDonald, 65, also will plead guilty to use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, according to documents filed in Fauquier County Circuit Court.

A former Warrenton Safeway employee, Mr. MacDonald could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for manslaughter and up to five years for the weapons charge in the killing of Larry Walker.

The killing took place in Mr. MacDonald’s home on Turkey Run Road, just southeast of town. Mr. MacDonald rented the house from the victim’s parents.

Mr. MacDonald and Mr. Walker, 56, drank heavily the night before the Feb. 19, 2017, incident, according to the prosecution’s three-page statement of facts.

A third man — Donald Busick — had joined them that evening but left before the killing.

“On at least once occasion, Mr. Walker pulled out his handgun and presented it to the group, though no one would be able to say later exactly what he intended other than to merely to brandish the weapon boastfully,” according to the prosecution.

Commonwealth’s Attorney James P. Fischer couldn’t be reached Tuesday morning for comment.

Based on Mr. MacDonald’s account, he and Mr. Walker got into an argument and tussled.

The arrest warrant states that Mr. MacDonald said “he was trying to get the victim to leave his residence when he became involved in a physical altercation with him.”

At some point, Mr. Walker produced a .38-caliber pistol, a shot got fired and he fell to the floor, according to court documents.

Mr. MacDonald told investigators he then shot Mr. Walker twice in the back.

He told investigators that Mr. Walker “was still moving prior to him shooting him twice,” according to the arrest warrant.

Medics pronounced Mr. Walker dead at the scene.

But the autopsy found that Mr. Walker suffered five gunshot wounds — one in the head, one in the neck and three in the back. The state medical examiner’s report also concludes that Mr. Walker got stabbed four times — producing three “gaping” wounds — and cut with a kitchen knife.

Mr. MacDonald recalls little about the details related to the shooting and stabbing, according to his Warrenton defense attorneys.

“Our guy’s recollection of events is paper-thin,” said attorney Blair D. Howard, who estimates he has handled “dozens” of homicide cases. “He admits he was intoxicated. But, he does remember (Mr. Walker) coming out and he remembers there’s a struggle over the gun.

“In the course of the struggle, the gun goes off. Next thing he knows, the guy’s down, he grabs the gun.”

Later that Sunday morning, Mr. MacDonald found the victim’s body on the kitchen floor, Mr. Howard said.

“He maintains he didn’t know (Mr. Walker) was dead,” the lawyer said. “What’s the first thing he does? He calls the guy’s father. He did the right thing . . . . Our guy isn’t trying to hide anything.”

At least four character witnesses will testify on behalf of Mr. MacDonald during the sentencing hearing, his lawyers said.

“This guy is quiet as a church mouse,” Mr. Howard said of his client, who has no criminal record. “He’s a guy that stays pretty much to himself. From people we’ve talked to, nobody has said that there’s anything in his history or background that suggests aggression.”

Mr. MacDonald has remained free on a $25,000 cash bond since last May. After he pleads guilty Wednesday, the bond will be revoked and he will be jailed pending the outcome of his sentencing hearing.

Authorities originally charged him with:

• Murder, which carries a penalty of up to life in prison.

• Use of a firearm in the commission of a murder, which carries a minimum three-year sentence.

• Two counts of firing a weapon in an occupied dwelling, each carrying up to a five- year sentence.
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TooTrue · February 15, 2018 at 10:07 am
That's the stock and trade. Dirty laundry.
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