Attempted murder charge dropped in Bruton domestic violence case

Staff Writer

An attempted murder charge has been dropped as part of an apparent plea agreement between a York commonwealth’s attorney and a Bruton woman accused of trying to shoot her husband in a domestic dispute.

Kassie Elizabeth Downs, 35 of York, was charged with domestic assault, reckless handling of a firearm, discharging a firearm within occupied dwelling, attempted maiming, four counts of child endangerment and attempted second-degree murder, according to filings in York-Poquoson Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.

The York-Poquoson Circuit Court Clerk’s office confirmed Friday three charges were certified to a grand jury, including one count of child endangerment, attempted maiming and discharging a firearm within an occupied dwelling.

The remaining charges, including the attempted second-degree murder charge, were dropped by prosecutors, according to the York-Poquoson Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Clerk’s office.

The charges stem from an incident on June 5.

On that day, York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office deputies were called to the Downs’ residence in Bruton for armed domestic violence, according to court filings.

Kassie Downs shot two .38 caliber bullets at her husband after she “wanted to fool around,” one criminal complaint stated.

The couple began to wrestle and hit each other, Downs then retrieved a Smith and Wesson revolver and shot at her husband once within the home and once into the air outside the home, the documents stated.

Downs’ four children were inside the home during the incident, according to the court filings.

On Dec. 12, York Commonwealth’s Attorney Benjamin Hahn accidentally leaked a plea agreement in the Downs case to the Virginia Gazette.

In the email intended for Downs’ attorney J. Stephen Roberts Sr., Hahn indicated he would drop the attempted murder charge and other felony charges if Downs waived a preliminary hearing on the attempted maiming, unlawful discharge of a firearm in an occupied dwelling and one count of child endangerment charges.

“...after consultation with the victim, I will seriously consider an ultimate resolution in Circuit Court that results in misdemeanor convictions rather than felony convictions,” Hahn wrote. “In fact, barring some extraordinary occurrence, I am of the opinion that such a resolution will be in the interest of both the parties and the Commonwealth.”

When a Virginia Gazette reporter notified Hahn he had accidentally leaked the plea deal he apologized.

A grand jury will convene in the case against Downs at 9 a.m. Jan. 15 in York-Poquoson Circuit Court, according to the court clerk’s office.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence call the Avalon Center Crisis Hotline, available 24 hours daily at 757-258-5051, to talk or schedule an appointment at the Avalon Center call 757-258-5022.

Note: Williamsburg attorney J. Stephen Roberts Sr. is of no relation to Virginia Gazette reporter Stephen P. Roberts Jr.

Roberts can be reached at 757-604-1329, by email at srobertsjr@vagazette.com and on Twitter @SPRobertsJr.

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