Murder trial in Farm Fresh shooting moves to May

Jimmy LaRoue

The trial of a Northern Virginia man on charges of first-degree murder and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony was continued this morning in Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court until May.

Brian Alexander Hicks, 56, charged in the death of Providence Forge resident Gabriel Ryan Maness, was scheduled for a bench trial Wednesday in Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court, but that will now take place Tuesday, May 2 at 9 a.m. He made an appearance at today's hearing, which lasted about five minutes.

Commonwealth's Attorney Nate Green had said Tuesday he expected the case to be removed from the docket and continued. Green said in court today he expects the bench trial to take up a significant portion of the day when it does take place.

The shooting inside the Norge Farm Fresh shocked a community and left residents looking for answers.

Hicks, who lived alone in a townhouse in the northern Virginia community of Woodbridge, is accused of shooting and killing the 34-year-old Maness, according to a criminal affidavit filed in Williamsburg-James City County General District Court.

Maness was at the grocery store that morning shopping for his family, Gabriel's father Jim Maness has said.

Police responded to the store shortly after 8 a.m. on April 17, with callers reporting shots had been fired. Police found Hicks standing in aisle six of the grocery store about five feet away from Maness' body, with a .45-caliber handgun on the ground in front of him, according to court documents.

Police found five shell casings close to the men and believe each one was from a bullet that struck Maness, court documents state.

Hicks was arraigned in Williamsburg-James City County General District Court on April 18 of last year, with a judge ordering a psychological evaluation.

Court documents initially indicated that Hicks had been charged with second degree murder. However, the charges were later upgraded to first degree murder, according to online court documents.

First degree murder is considered to be planned and premeditated, while second degree murder is generally known to be intentional but not premeditated.

Hicks waived his preliminary hearing last September and pleaded not guilty to the charges in October.

LaRoue can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342.

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