Motions from James City murder suspect turned aside in contentious hearing

Jimmy LaRoue

Following at-times testy exchanges during a two-and-a-half hour hearing Monday, a judge turned aside several motions from a James City County man accused of first degree murder in the death of his mother.

Having won the right to represent himself at a previous hearing, Michael Alan Webb, 35, filed a motion in Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court claiming police did not read him his Miranda rights on May 17, the day police found his mother, Edna Webb, dead.

Webb filed another motion to suppress evidence police gathered in his mother’s home, arguing police did not have a search warrant.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Nate Green, prosecuting the case against Michael Webb, called five witnesses, all James City County police officers, during the hearing.

Judge Michael McGinty cautioned Webb during the hearing that he was trying to argue his case, rather than questioning witnesses and directly address his motions. The judge also urged Webb to reconsider having an attorney represent him.

Christopher Voltin is Webb’s standby attorney, which means he can advise him but cannot speak for Webb during any court hearings and during the jury trial, scheduled for March 27.

James City County Police were called to Edna Webb’s home at 1877 Ferrell Drive in the Brookwood Haven neighborhood around 10 a.m. May 17 for a welfare check after she didn’t show up for work at Eastern State Hospital earlier that morning.

When officers arrived, the front door was locked, so they entered the townhouse through a rear door and found her dead in the kitchen area of the home, according to police, who said her cause of death appeared to be blunt force trauma.

Master Police Officer Brandon Frantz testified that police entered the townhouse around 10 a.m., and then a SWAT team entered around 11:11 a.m. to clear the upstairs area. Following that, Investigator Chris Gibson said he prepared an affidavit for a search warrant to the James City County magistrate around 1:30 p.m.

. Investigator Jake Rice said the first evidence in the home was not collected until 2:37 p.m.

After the SWAT team cleared the home, James City County Police Lt. Steve Humphries went to the Happy Shopper on Pocahontas Trail, about 1.5 miles from the townhouse, after getting a report that Michael Webb might be there.

Humphries said he found Webb with a woman who was on the phone with police dispatch. While at the Happy Shopper, Humphries asked a cooperative Webb if they could speak at the police station, Humphries said. Webb agreed, and he was detained and taken to the James City County Law Enforcement Center.

At that time, Humphries said he did not read Webb his Miranda rights since he was being detained, not arrested.

“No one said Michael Webb did it when I responded to the Happy Shopper,” Humphries said. “We knew there was a history with your mother and you (and) she wanted to evict you.”

Webb said he felt he was under arrest at that point and should have been read his Miranda rights. Webb was later arrested at the Law Enforcement Center and was read his Miranda rights.

McGinty allowed the evidence police gathered after the search warrants, and the judge said statements Webb made after he was read his Miranda rights were admissable.

McGinty then asked Webb if he had any additional motions. Webb asked for bond because he said he was innocent. McGinty denied that request. Webb also asked for the charges against him to be dropped, which McGinty also denied.

“The trial is a waste of the court’s time,” Webb said. “I’m an innocent man.”

LaRoue can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342, by email at or on Twitter @jlaroue.

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