A teen convicted of unlawful wounding for shooting two E.C. Glass High School students was granted bond Wednesday to be released from detention.
Austin Daniel Rozdilski turned 18 last week while at the Lynchburg Regional Juvenile Detention Center and either would be sent to jail or released because he’s no longer a minor, according to Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Bethany Harrison.
A jury found Rozdilski not guilty of second-degree murder, malicious wounding and firearms charges at the close of his trial in December, but found him guilty of the downgraded charge of unlawful wounding.
His charges stemmed from the May shooting of two Glass senior, football players: Dre’yon “Biggs” Browley, 18, and Justin “JB” Barnett, 19. Browley died from gunshot wounds to the face and stomach and Barnett spent two weeks in the hospital, having been shot in the right buttock.
According to testimony and prosecutor statements, Rozdilski drove to The Meadows apartment complex that evening to buy a fully automatic pistol from Barnett, bringing along a 9mm pistol. Barnett said from the witness stand he and Browley were unable to get the gun before the exchange, making Rozdilski angry and prompting an argument that ended in gunfire.
Rozdilski claimed the two other teens brought pistols to the deal and tried to rob him. He said he shot at them in self-defense after Browley pointed a gun at his head.
The shooting had a significant effect on the community, evidenced by hundreds of people attending a prayer vigil for Browley and Barnett at the Glass football field. Rozdilski’s acquittal — by an all-white jury and as a white teen accused of maliciously shooting at two black teens — caused more discontent, and people shared concerns about racial inequality within the criminal justice system to local officials in the weeks after the verdict.
Rozdilski remained at the detention center after his trial and previously was scheduled to be sentenced last week.
With public health concerns high because of the coronavirus pandemic, most criminal court hearings are being postponed unless a defendant’s speedy trial rights would be violated by further delay. The Supreme Court of Virginia passed an emergency order to that effect on March 16, so Rozdilski’s sentencing hearing will now be scheduled in April for a future date, likely months from now.
Joseph Sanzone, Rozdilski’s attorney, said Thursday his client has been well-behaved while in custody since his arrest in May, according to court records.
He said “a lot has changed” since bond initially was set: Rozdilski’s trial, acquittal and 18th birthday. He was granted $5,000 bond Wednesday with additional conditions to keep him from accessing firearms.
“We would’ve loved to have gone forward and finished this case last week, but we can’t because of what the governor said and what the Supreme Court had to say,” about the coronavirus, Sanzone said.
Rachel Mahoney covers courts for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5554.