Update: BEDFORD — A Bedford County judge agreed Tuesday to appoint an ex-Roanoke police officer as an investigator to aid in the capital murder defense of a suspect in the killing of Lynchburg teen Raymond Wood.
Lawyers for Jose Coreas-Ventura also will be authorized to hire a mental health expert as well as a mitigation specialist, who can prepare a social history report on the defendant.
After issuing those orders, Circuit Judge James Updike Jr. also agreed to relocate Coreas-Ventura to Roanoke City Jail. His attorneys want him moved out of the Amherst Adult Detention Center and closer to their offices in Salem and Roanoke due to his need to consult with them frequently.
Coreas-Ventura, 20, stands accused of capital murder along with Lisandro Posada-Vazquez, 24, in the killing of Wood.
A motorist found the body of Wood, 17, on Roaring Run Road in the Goode area March 27. After a brief investigation, the two defendants were captured and charged in the murder, as was suspect Victor Arnoldo Rodas, 19, who faces a first-degree murder charge.
All three of the men, who are undocumented immigrants and allegedly associated with the international MS-13 gang, also are charged with several other crimes in connection with the incident.
Coreas-Ventura’s defense lawyers, Christopher Kowalczuk, of Roanoke, and Jeffrey Dorsey, of Salem, said the expert investigator for the defense team would cost $70 per hour and asked the judge for an initial authorization of $3,500.
They said the mental health expert would cost $350 per hour, in line with standard doctor’s expenses, and the mitigation specialist would cost $100 per hour. The lawyers cited a 2003 Supreme Court decision they said mandated the appointment of such a specialist in Virginia capital cases, to ensure the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel.
Bedford County Commonwealth’s Attorney Wes Nance did not object to the appointment of any of the three experts.
Nance did raise potential cost concerns about moving Coreas-Ventura to Roanoke and said if necessary, the inmate can be transported to the Bedford jail for attorney consultations.
Updike said he wants to make sure cost issues do not get in the way of a fair trial, and high costs come with capital cases. “Seeking the death penalty is an expensive proposition,” he said.
Court-appointed lawyers for the other capital-murder defendant, Posada-Vasquez, had not filed similar motions for defense experts and relocation, based on court records as of Tuesday.
Nance said the co-defendants other than Coreas-Ventura are being held in the Lynchburg branch of Blue Ridge Regional Jail.
Earlier: A Bedford County judge agreed Tuesday to appoint an ex-Roanoke police officer to aid in the capital murder defense of a suspect in the killing of Raymond Wood of Lynchburg.
Court-appointed lawyers for Jose Coreas-Ventura will also be authorized to hire a mental health expert as well as a mitigation specialist, who can prepare a social history report on the defendant.
While issuing those orders, Circuit Judge James Updike Jr. held off on a decision on where to relocate Coreas-Ventura. His attorneys want him moved out of the Amherst Adult Detention Center and closer to their offices in Salem and Roanoke due to the need to frequently consult with them.