A George Soros-backed prosecutor in Virginia mistakenly freed a man charged with murder who was apprehended the following day in Georgia.
The office of Loudoun County prosecutor Buta Biberaj (D.) on Thursday dropped second-degree murder charges in general district court for 25-year-old Stone Colburn, who last year was accused of stabbing his brother’s girlfriend to death. Biberaj’s office dropped charges in an effort for the Loudoun County Circuit Court to declare Colburn mentally fit to stand trial. Biberaj said the district court was on the verge of committing him to a mental hospital.
But one of Biberaj’s deputies failed to get those new charges approved by a judge before dropping the old ones, attorneys say, which forced the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office to release Colburn. Colburn skipped town after his release and had made it almost 600 miles away before he was apprehended Friday by police in Chatham County, Ga.
Andrew Kersey, a former prosecutor in Fairfax County, told the Washington Free Beacon the "screw up" was avoidable, and that Biberaj’s team, "in trying to be too clever by half and circumvent the general district court's ruling, only ended up temporarily mucking up the whole case."
It is the latest display of incompetence from the scandal-plagued prosecutor’s office. In February, the prosecutor came under fire after it was revealed the office hired a registered sex offender without performing a background check. A Loudoun County judge also kicked Biberaj off a case in June after she did not mention a defendant’s past robbery charges in a plea agreement.
Biberaj is one of three progressive prosecutors who assumed office in Northern Virginia in 2020, along with Fairfax County’s Steve Descano (D.) and Arlington County’s Parisa Dehghani-Tafti (D.). Soros’s Justice and Public Safety PAC donated more than half a million dollars to each of their campaigns.
Colburn was charged in July 2021 for the murder of Natalie Crow, his brother’s girlfriend. The murder happened at a home in Round Hill, Va., in front of the couple’s nine-month-old daughter. Both Colburn and the daughter’s clothes were covered with blood, according to court documents, and Crow’s body was found stuffed into a trash can.
Biberaj’s deputy Michele Burton said she believes Colburn is faking insanity to avoid prosecution and needs further psychiatric evaluation to prove he is competent to stand trial. Judges denied her request for a secondary evaluation after the first showed Colburn was mentally unfit—prompting her to pursue other legal options.
Burton said Biberaj’s office wanted to pursue an indictment in circuit court for the murder, which is why they dropped the general district court charges. On Wednesday, the office directed the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office to retrieve Colburn from Central State Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Petersburg, Va., where he had been held since 2021. Upon arrival, the office would request another psychiatric evaluation under the new charges.
Biberaj’s office botched Colburn’s transfer, failing to obtain an arrest order to hold the defendant on Thursday because it used an "information" charge rather than an indictment, Kersey told the Free Beacon. Biberaj’s office filed another charge on Friday to obtain an arrest order for Colburn after he fled the state.
Biberaj told the Free Beacon her office had filed the order on Thursday that should have held Colburn. But the order she referred to was a transportation order not an arrest order, which would have held the defendant, other attorneys noted. An arrest order dated the same day, Oct. 6, was never signed by a judge.
"I don't think there was anything for the Loudoun County Sheriff to hold the defendant on when the murder charge in general district court was dismissed the same day," Kersey said. "Indeed, I believe the sheriff could have faced possible civil issues had he held the defendant without the proper device being issued by the court."
Lorie O’Donnell, a public defender in Loudoun County, told the Loudoun Times-Mirror last week that Biberaj’s office "filed the paperwork, but it had not been entered, or followed up with to ensure that the capias [arrest order] was in fact issued prior to the murder charge being dropped."
Biberaj said in a press release that her office served Colburn with the new indictment charge to keep him in custody upon his arrival on Thursday. The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release that prosecutors did not file the new charges until the following day. Biberaj deflected blame for Colburn’s release, saying she was "greatly disappointed" and that the sheriff’s office’s account "mischaracterizes the release of Colburn and their lack of accountability."
When the Free Beacon asked why the sheriff's office didn't receive the charges until after Colburn's release, Biberaj declined to comment further.
Update 10/13/2022 at 2:05 p.m.: This article has been updated.
Published under: Crime , George Soros , Murder , Virginia