Miyares, Morales discuss dismissed Portsmouth cases in letters

Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney, Stephanie Morales, responded to a letter from Attorney General Jason Miyares regarding multiple criminal trial dismissals.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — About a week after 13News Now released an investigation into a series of dismissed criminal cases in Portsmouth, Attorney General Jason Miyares wrote a letter to Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney, Stephanie Morales.

In the letter, Miyares references news reports and calls from concerned citizens regarding two separate criminal trials that were dismissed due to a reported error in the court’s process of submitting a witness list.

RELATED: A man witnessed a murder. Prosecutors omitted his address on the witness list. Now the murder case is dismissed.

One of the cases involved the first-degree murder trial against Jamal Cannon. A Portsmouth judge dismissed the case before the jury even had the chance to deliberate. 13News Now learned it was as simple as the prosecutor submitting a witness list with one thing omitted: the home address of their key witness.

Another case involved a woman who faced several child abuse charges following a daycare fire. 

Portsmouth Circuit Court Judge Brenda Spry considered a motion to dismiss the case, after a defense attorney claimed city prosecutors mishandled the case during a hearing. Agreeing that prosecutors didn’t follow discovery rules, Spry decided to dismiss with prejudice. 

In his letter, Miyares noted these dismissals, saying, “When there are no consequences for committing violent crimes, public safety deteriorates, criminals are emboldened, and innocent victims are revictimized.”

RELATED: Dozens of recent Hampton Roads murder cases have collapsed in court. Here’s why this is happening.

He even referenced the city’s short-staffed law enforcement, saying the city has the highest police vacancy rate in the state at about 34-percent. Miyares expressed concern over how potential candidates for the police department would view the recent dismissals, saying, “if they

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