Bill Geroux; Times-Dispatch Staff Writer February 27, 2001, Tuesday, City Edition Copyright 2001 The Richmond Times Dispatch The Richmond Times Dispatch February 27, 2001, Tuesday, City Edition
(NORFOLK, Va.) -- Former Judge Luther C. Edmonds was freed from jail early yesterday after serving more than 15 months for pistol-whipping Del. William P. Robinson Jr., D-Norfolk.
Edmonds, 58, left the Norfolk City Jail at 12:01 a.m. yesterday, as early as he possibly could leave on his day of freedom.
"He's a free man," said Sgt. Patrick Dunn, spokesman for the Norfolk sheriff's office.
Edmonds could not be reached for comment yesterday. In a jailhouse interview earlier this month with The Times-Dispatch, he maintained he never attacked Robinson and said the judicial system had targeted him for unfair treatment. His demeanor and message appeared to have changed little during his stretch behind bars.
Edmonds, who looked grayer but otherwise none the worse for incarceration, said in the interview that he would continue to pursue lawsuits against various authorities he blamed for the loss of his judgeship and for his conviction on charges of unlawful wounding and unlawful wearing of a mask.
Edmonds, a former Norfolk Circuit judge, was convicted in November 1999 by a jury in Alexandria of donning a mask, ambushing and pistol-whipping Robinson the previous December.
Prosecutors argued at the trial that Edmonds was angry at Robinson, his former political patron, for having played a role in Edmonds' fall from the bench.
Edmonds resigned his judgeship in 1996 in the midst of a hearing before the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission, a secretive state organization that investigates alleged misconduct by judges.
Afterward, Edmonds publicly denied any wrongdoing and said he had quit because he no longer could tolerate discriminatory conduct by his fellow judges. Robinson publicly defended the other judges and disclosed that Edmonds had been under investigation for deciding cases involving a woman with whom Edmonds had a personal relationship.
Edmonds said the charges were groundless. After his resignation, he moved into Robinson's legislative district in Norfolk and unsuccessfully ran against him twice, once before the attack and once after.
Edmonds will remain on probation for three years and possibly will be examined to see whether he needs counseling to control his anger.
Edmonds said in the jailhouse interview that he felt no anger toward anyone. He said he would try to have his conviction overturned and to regain his law license. He said he had written an autobiography in jail. He said he might consider a job teaching at a college or perhaps running for office again.
Robinson told The Times-Dispatch two weeks ago that he wished Edmonds well. A criminal defense lawyer, Robinson said it was not unusual for a person who had been convicted of a crime to protest innocence even after serving a sentence.