MURDER USA: JUDGE ALLOWS ROBERT MARSHALL CORNELIUS WHO ATTEMPTED TO FLEE AFTER SHOOTING GRANDMA TO DEATH TO BE FREE ON BAIL PENDING SENTENCING
Robert Marshall Cornelius who has now pleaded guilty to killing his grandmother, Ruth Ann Knave; took her credit cards, stole her car and fled to Richmond Airport remains free on bail until sentencing.
MCDOWELL, VA. – Sure, it’s hard to believe that this kid could be a flight risk pending sentencing in December – after all, he was caught at the Airport attempting to flee Virginia after his gruesome crime of shooting his grandmother to death, robbing her and stealing her car.
Maybe his family has him chained to the furnace in the basement.
Highland County Circuit Court records reveal that a plea deal has been agreed to between the attorney representing Robert Marshall Cornelius, the prosecutor, and the Judge. THE DEAL: On Sept. 25, 2018, Cornelius entered a guilty plea to second-degree murder in the slaying of his grandmother on Sept. 17, 2017.
Cornelius was arrested on Oct. 11, 2017, and indicted as an adult on March 5, 2018, for the shooting death of Ruth Ann Knave at a cabin his parents often rented out to visitors from out of state. The cabin was located on the family farm near McDowell and his grandmother was visiting from her home in Piney Point, Maryland.
WVLS radio in West Virginia reported that the defendant’s attorney’s and the Commonwealth Attorney Special Prosecutor reached a plea agreement to amend the original charge of first-degree murder, as well as drop other felony charges related to the case. Cornelius, 15, entered an Alford plea, which is a guilty plea in which a defendant does not admit to the criminal act and asserts innocence, but admits that the evidence presented by the prosecution would be likely to persuade a judge or jury to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Judge John E. Wetsel Jr. questioned Cornelius to ascertain he understood the implications of his guilty plea and found that he did. Commonwealth special prosecutor Charles Simmons then presented the judge with a summary of the evidence the prosecution would have provided, and the Judge found it sufficient to warrant accepting the guilty plea.
The crime carries a possible sentence from between 5 and 40 years in a penitentiary. The defense made a motion for social history and pre-sentencing report, and the Commonwealth made a motion for a victim impact statement, both of which were granted. The sentencing hearing was set for December 20, 2018, at 10:00 am.
Pursuant to the plea arrangement, the defendant remains free on bail until sentencing.
“He made a statement that he had accidentally shot his grandmother at his home,” the search warrant filed with the court records stated.
Virginia State Police said the teen was trying to catch an undisclosed flight and was carrying two of his grandmother’s credit cards when he was apprehended by Airport Police following a lookout for the stolen car. Virginia State Police arrived at the Richmond International Airport (RIC) in Richmond, Va., where the Subaru was located in the parking lot. Cornelius was taken into custody by Richmond International Airport Police.
According to the search warrant, which had been sealed since September of 2017, Cornelius also had a backpack with a passport, clothing, two handwritten notes on index cards, jewelry, $1,277 in cash and nearly five dollars in loose change.
Besides the murder charge, the teen, who turned 15 in February of 2018, also faced charges of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony along with two charges of credit card theft. All those charges have now been dropped as part of the plea deal.