A local man was convicted of attempted voluntary manslaughter last Wednesday.
On July 3, in Richmond County Circuit Court, Matthew Lee Brann, 32, of Farnham, pleaded no contest after Richmond County Commonwealth’s Attorney Wayne Emery recommended that charges against him be amended from Attempted 2nd Degree Murder to the Attempted Voluntary Manslaughter of Joey Hayden.
Judge Harry T. Taliaferro III presided over the case.
According to evidence presented by Emery, the offense occurred Sept. 3 on Normans Corner Road in Farnham.
Brann had engaged Hayden and two other individuals in a fight over what Emery alleged was “a jealousy over a woman and…her subsequent taking up with other individuals.”
Emery said that during the fight, Brann pulled a .22 caliber Marlin rifle from his vehicle and fired at Hayden while he was running away, striking him in the side.
Emery added that the bullet went through Hayden completely, nicking his liver and coming within centimeters of his heart.
Prior to the incident, Brann’s Defense Attorney James T. Maloney noted that there was a text exchange between Brann and his former girlfriend, or the involved female witness, who was at Hayden’s residence during the exchange.
Maloney said Brann made derogatory yet nonthreatening statements about Hayden to the witness in his text messages. The witness shared the messages with Hayden, which caused the situation to escalate, according to Maloney.
Maloney added that later on the witness had called Brann claiming he had slashed her tires. An argument then ensued between Brann and the witness before Hayden’s brother, who was with the witness at the time, grabbed the phone and started yelling at Brann.
Maloney said there was testimony from the witness of an argument between Brann and Hayden’s brother, as well as discussion of a fight at Hayden’s home.
Maloney added that Phillip Hayden then called the home and advised the three individuals- Joey Hayden among them- to leave the premise as he suspected Brann was on his way and did not want them involved in the altercation.
Maloney claimed the notified individuals began to leave the home when they saw Brann’s vehicle pull into Hayden’s driveway.
Maloney contested that instead of leaving, the individuals pulled back into the driveway and blocked Brann’s vehicle in the road.
Maloney argued that Joey Hayden and Brann then exited their vehicles and entered into a physical altercation.
Maloney added that the two additional individuals who were with Hayden also exited their vehicle and proceeded “doing whatever [they] needed to do to Mr. Brann” to separate him from Hayden, including “raining blows upon him.”
Maloney noted conflicting testimony that the altercation was still ongoing when Brann freed himself from Hayden, grabbing his gun and firing on the individuals in what Brann claimed was self-defense.
Maloney argued that there were text messages exchanged between Brann and the witness following the incident with no discussion of anyone having been shot.
Maloney claimed Brann was not aware of Hayden’s injuries until police approached him about the incident.
Brann was found guilty and sentenced to 5 years with 4 years and 4 months suspended, leaving him eight months of active time to serve in a penitentiary.
The court ordered Brann to serve 10 years of peace and good behavior with supervised probation for an indefinite period of time upon his release.
Brann was ordered to take and complete an anger management class, make consistent efforts to maintain or attain fulltime employment and make no contact of any kind with the victim or his former girlfriend upon release.
The court set restitution at $45,000 to cover Hayden’s medical bills accrued due to his injuries from the shooting.
The court permitted that Brann may have work release if he qualifies for the program.
Brann will report to the Northern Neck Regional Jail Friday, July 12 at 7 p.m. to begin serving his active sentence.