Murder case dropped, blamed on 'fatal error' by prosecutor

A fatal error allowed murder charges to be dropped

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) -- A grieving family blamed Virginia Beach prosecutors for failing to get justice.

“He definitely got away with murder,” the victim’s mother, Brenda Tate said.

After a court hearing on Monday morning, the Commonwealth's Attorney offered his apologies and admitted an error in his office led to the dismissal of murder charges.

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Colin Stolle called the advice the city's number two prosecutor gave during a murder trial “a fatal error.” That error led to both a dismissal of charges for the accused killer and dismissal from his job for that chief deputy.

“All we wanted was justice, but I guess we gotta let the Lord do it,” Tate told reporters.

The city's top prosecutor, Colin Stolle, took responsibility for the decision made in his office.

“I expressed my deepest apologies for the mishandling of this case,” he said.

But that doesn't ease Brenda Tate's pain.

“Sorry ain't enough for me,” she lamented. “Sorry ain’t enough for me.”

Here's why: The Commonwealth's Attorney's Office can never again prosecute Leander Williams III for the murder of Tate's son, Antonio Cameron.

Monday's court hearing confirmed what sources told 13News Now Friday -- A jury was seated in this murder trial Tuesday. However, on Wednesday, one of the prosecutors called out sick. Chief Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Scott Vachris advised the remaining prosecutor to make a Nolle prosequi motion, which would essentially dismiss this case.

Since the trial had already started, prosecutors can never bring back the charges.

Family members told 13News Now they believe Leander Williams III got away with murder and they blame the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office for that.

“This case was mishandled on my office's part,” Stolle said. “There's no two ways about that. We find ourselves here today with this matter being dismissed and that is directly as a result of a decision made in my office. So, they are correct.”

Scott Vachris is a well-respected career prosecutor. Stolle explained the firing sent shockwaves through his office.

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“Some mistakes are inexcusable and require swift and immediate action,” he said.

He's now committed to take the training of attorneys back to the basics of these legal concepts.

Moving on for Cameron's family won't be as simple.

“He still going to be missed,” Tate added. “He still going to be my son. Nothing was going to bring him back anyway.”

Stolle added despite Vachris' impeccable record, he saw no other discipline options besides termination in a situation like this. We reached out to Vachris to see if he had an explanation for giving this advice, but haven't heard back.

Leander Williams III had no comment on his way out of court.