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Joseph Painter, who faces gun and drug charges, was arrested last week along with Doris Ann Oliver, a former client.
Doris Ann Oliver
Monday, March 4, 2013
A Blacksburg lawyer who was arrested last week on gun and drug charges was denied bond Monday in Montgomery County General District Court.
Joseph Painter, 65, has been charged with driving under the influence, distribution of a Schedule IV controlled substance and two counts of selling or giving a firearm to a convicted felon.
Painter was arrested Feb. 26 after police received a call at 10:51 p.m. about a possible fight between a man and a woman in a car on North Franklin Street in Christiansburg, authorities have said. After officers located the car in the parking lot of the Super 8 on Laurel Street, a passenger in the vehicle, who is a former client of Painter , also was arrested, according to authorities.
Doris Ann Oliver, 21, of Roanoke was arrested and charged with two counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, one count of possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, one count of possession of a controlled substance, one count of possession of controlled paraphernalia, one count of possession of marijuana and one count of possession of a concealed weapon.
Oliver was denied bond at a hearing Friday, according to Montgomery County Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettitt. Oliver is being held in the Western Virginia Regional Jail, and according to online records, her next court date is scheduled for June 3.
Painter was using a wheelchair during Monday’s hearing. His wife, Marie, testified that her husband is weak because of side effects from multiple prescribed medications.
Joseph Painter’s medication use and mental health issues were discussed during the hearing. Both his wife and his rector — the Rev. Phyllis Spiegel of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Christiansburg — testified that Painter has recently had a change in behavior. He is confused, speaks rapidly and is irritable and unfocused, they said.
Marie Painter testified that her husband was hospitalized last spring after medication that he was taking caused him to have trouble breathing and created balance and confusion issues. He is prescribed medication, including Cymbalta, lithium and Klonopin, which was found in the car that he was in with Oliver, according to testimony.
Spiegel testified that when she visited Joseph Painter in jail, he told her he had not been taking his medication.
Wade McNichols, Painter’s lawyer, said Painter would be willing to seek immediate mental health treatment if released. But Martinsville Commonwealth’s Attorney Joan Ziglar, who has been appointed to prosecute Painter’s case, argued that Painter’s history of misdemeanor convictions, his extensive gun collection and his mental health issues could make him a danger to the community.
In April 2001, Painter was convicted of setting fires in an area behind his former house on Rucker Road in Blacksburg. According to his wife’s testimony Monday, he set the fires because he believed there was a sinkhole on the property and did not want it to be developed. Painter’s law license was suspended for a year, he received a suspended jail sentence and he had to move at least a quarter-mile from the property.
Marie Painter also testified that she estimates her husband now has eight rifles and 14 to 15 handguns. The family has been in the process of selling Joseph Painter’s firearms to licensed dealers because they need money, she said. Painter’s bouts of illness have affected his work, and in turn, the family’s finances, Marie Painter testified.
According to a search warrant filed Friday, after Joseph Painter had been arrested, he was overheard calling his assistant from the jail and asking her to retrieve something from a vehicle located at the Super 8 on Laurel Street. Police obtained a warrant because they believed there could be “something illegal hidden in the vehicle,” the warrant stated.
According to the warrant, officers seized eight firearms, two audio recorders, a pill bottle with pills, assorted ammunition and documents from a 2010 Mazda 3.
Marie Painter testified that she and the couple’s daughter are working to get rid of Joseph Painter’s firearms, which he has been known to keep in his house, his car and his office.
“He just has them everywhere,” she said.
According to testimony, Joseph Painter on Friday asked jail officials for a pen and paper in order to draft a will. Capt. Kim Haug testified that Painter is not on suicide watch but has been placed in an area of the jail where he can be seen at all times so that his medical condition can be monitored.
McNichols argued that Painter should be released so that he could seek mental health treatment. Painter has never been violent, is not known to be revengeful and would be willing to remove all firearms from his possession, McNichols added.
But Rockingham General District Court Judge Richard Claybrook, who presided over the hearing via a video link, said he was denying bond because of the prosecution’s concern about the potential threat to the community.
“We are going to appeal this decision,” McNichols said after the hearing.
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