Norfolk Prosecutor Gives Another Controversial Plea Deal in Murder Case, Family Calls System Corrupt
Photo Credit: WTKR TV3
Written by: Sam Orlando
Norfolk Commonwealth Attorney Ramin Fatehi is facing criticism from a group of petitioners who filed a Writ of Mandamus and Prohibition with the Virginia Supreme Court, accusing Fatehi of failing to execute the basic ministerial duties required of his office. The petitioners allege that Fatehi has created a public nuisance by repeatedly failing to adequately prepare for the prosecution of certain defendants in high-profile homicide cases, leading to dismissals and mistrials and allowing criminals to run free in the city of Norfolk.
The petitioners, including Michael J. Muhammad, Arkeda D. Brehon, Cartina M. Wilson, Shandy S. Woodall, and Jessica R. Hairston, also claim that Fatehi and his office have violated the "Crime Victim and Witness Right Act" by not keeping the victims and witnesses properly informed, leading to a lack of justice for the victims of crime in Norfolk.
The controversy over Fatehi's performance as Commonwealth Attorney intensified last week when prosecutors said that Kenyatta Jones, who was charged with the death of Morgan Bazemore and her mother, Alicia Hereford, in 2021, pleaded guilty to lesser charges of manslaughter. Bazemore and Herford’s loved ones expressed disappointment and demanded answers. Bazemore's aunt said, "Our family is completely hurt and disappointed. How do you shoot two people -- a headshot for one, and the mother shot three times -- and you walk away with four years [each]. You could hit a geese or dog and get more time. So, how do you get just eight years total for two beautiful souls?"
The plea deal has sparked outrage in the community and raised questions about Fatehi's handling of the case. Bazemore's aunt, who did not want to be identified, said prosecutors initially told her Jones could get 30 years in prison, but now after the deal, he could only get eight. "Something else has to be done about this whole system, this whole corruption," she said. "How do you shoot two people -- a headshot for one, and the mother shot three times -- and you walk away with four years [each]. You could hit a geese or dog and get more time. So, how do you get just eight years total for two beautiful souls?"
Fatehi defended the plea deal, saying, "We made the offer as the best of a series of options based on the limited evidence we had." Jones is set for sentencing on July 14, and the victims' families are demanding answers about why the case didn't go to trial.
The controversy over Fatehi's performance has raised concerns about the criminal justice system in Norfolk and whether justice is being served. The petitioners believe that their case is an important one for the people of Norfolk, particularly for the Black community, which has been targeted by criminals and harassed by the police. "The people of Norfolk have had enough, and we just aren't going to take it anymore," said Muhammad. "We won't stop until change comes to Norfolk ... change that values the inherent worth of all people, not just people who agree with Mr. Fatehi."
The petitioners hope that their Writ of Mandamus and Prohibition will be reviewed promptly by the Virginia Supreme Court, and that the court will direct the Norfolk Circuit Court to empanel a Special Grand Jury to investigate Fatehi's actions. They believe that Fatehi's incompetence and neglect of his duties as Commonwealth Attorney have created a public nuisance, and that the people of Norfolk deserve justice.
It remains to be seen whether Fatehi's performance as Commonwealth Attorney will improve or whether he will face consequences for his actions