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BLACKSBURG

Blacksburg man pleads guilty for wild Christmas ride

CHRISTIANSBURG — Mitchell Conrad Linkous’ wild Christmas ride, which began with a Blacksburg police officer clinging to his door and continued into two years in the court system – where Linkous faced six charges of the attempted capital murder of officers, among other accusations – finally coasted toward a stop Tuesday.

In a hearing in Montgomery County Circuit Court, Linkous, 47, of Blacksburg, pleaded guilty to seven charges in an agreement that modified some of the counts against him and dropped others. Judge Robert Turk said that he was convicting Linkous of two counts of assaulting an officer, one felony count of property destruction for totaling a Virginia State Police cruiser, two misdemeanor counts of property destruction for damaging Blacksburg police cars, eluding, and intoxicated driving, second or subsequent offense.

Prosecution and defense attorneys said that there had been no agreement about Linkous’ sentencing, and Turk scheduled a hearing for March 28, after a pre-sentence report can be prepared, to determine Linkous’ punishment.

Bev Davis of Radford, who defended Linkous along with Chris Anderson of Roanoke, gave a statement outside the hearing that Linkous “is remorseful about what happened” on Christmas night, 2019, “and has lived an exemplary life since the incident.”

In the courtroom, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Erin Little summarized the prosecution’s version of what happened, saying it began when a Blacksburg police officer saw a pickup truck stopped in the road, apparently in the midst of a turn from the town’s North Main Street onto Prices Fork Road. The pickup had a smashed back window and tail light, Little said. After the truck eventually completed the turn, the officer pulled it over and found Linkous at the wheel.

The officer could smell alcohol and Linkous’ eyes were red and his speech slurred, Little said. Linkous told the officer that he drank three beers several hours before, Little said.

When the officer told Linkous to get out of the car, he refused. The pickup’s driver-side door was open at that point and Linkous slammed it shut. The officer pulled it back open and Linkous shut it again, Little said. After several openings and closings, Linkous drove off with the officer hanging on – for a time – to the driver’s door, Little said.

A chase ensued that involved three police agencies and stretched into Christiansburg then back into Montgomery County. The pursuit included Linkous wrecking his truck twice on the U.S. 460 bypass but each time getting the vehicle back into motion and continuing on, Little said. He ended up at a relative’s home in the Merrimac community, where he ran the pickup into a tree.

But Linkous again got the pickup moving and continued behind the relative’s house and into the woods, Little said. Officers chased him on foot, only to have Linkous drive out of the woods and toward them. Linkous then collided with three parked police cars and drove on, evading the pursuit entirely for a time, Little said.

Officers soon found the pickup parked on nearby Oilwell Road. But they did not locate Linkous until a drone was sent up and spotted his heat signature in the woods, Little said. While Linkous continued to be uncooperative, he was eventually taken into custody, she said.

Davis and Anderson noted that Linkous has been free on bond since soon after his arrest, and said he had had no problems following the various requirements set for him. Turk said that Linkous could remain out of jail pending his sentencing.

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