When a 20-year-old Chantilly woman, just 5-foot-2, saw a crowd of men beating a 21-year-old male friend of hers with a baseball bat, she stepped in to save his life, screaming at his attackers to stop. Instead, they turned on her.
One of them struck her on the head with a crowbar, causing possible permanent injuries. Last week in Fairfax County Circuit Court, her assailant, Michael Lynn Ray, 19, of 8917 Little River Turnpike in Annandale, pleaded guilty to the deed — aggravated malicious wounding.
"[The victim] sustained a closed head wound and bleeding on her brain," said Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Toni Fay. "She spent four days in the hospital and still suffers headaches from it."
The incident occurred in the early morning hours of June 29 at the Franklin Farm home of 1999 Chantilly High grad Rick Loughery. He'd invited 15-20 close friends, ages 20-21 — including both the victims — for a get-together.
But shortly after midnight, he said, "A younger group of kids showed up, looking to party." There were about five people, ages 17-20, and one girl who knew someone at Loughery's party had invited the others.
"They walked into a bedroom, without making contact with anyone," said Loughery. "We asked them to leave. It turned into a shoving match, and they left, very belligerently."
But trouble reappeared, shortly before 4 a.m. — when just a handful of people remained at Loughery's home and he and his guests were cleaning up. "[The female victim] noticed a caravan of vehicles approaching the home," said Fay. "Some 10-15 people gathered in the front yard."
When Loughery saw all these unknown people arrive — most of the men wielding baseball bats — he called 911. His two friends (who Centre View is not identifying since they're victims) went outside and told the intruders to leave, but both were soon overpowered.
Loughery said his male friend was viciously beaten with a bat and kicked while he was still down. When the female, a Brookfield resident, tried to intervene, she, too, was struck — whacked hard on the left side of her forehead, just above her eye.
But with everything going on, she at first didn't realize she'd been injured. Said the woman: "I didn't know I was hit in the head until I felt the blood."
Upon investigation, said Fay, police "Det. [Steve] Shillingford learned that Ray had been involved in the fight and may have been the one who struck her on the head. When questioned by Shillingford, he denied being at the party. [But later], after witnesses said he did it, he admitted to Shillingford hitting her on the head with a metal pipe — some kind of tool."
Police arrested Ray on July 9, charging him with aggravated malicious wounding because the woman's medical problems could well be long-term. The male victim was released from the hospital after a day; doctors said he suffered a mild concussion.
Before accepting Ray's plea last Wednesday, Oct. 30, Judge Dennis Smith made sure he understood that it's a felony conviction — and that it carries a possible maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The judge also ascertained that Ray was pleading guilty of his own free will and because he was, indeed, guilty as charged in the indictment.
"Do you understand that, by pleading guilty, you're giving up your right to a trial by a jury and your right to confront and cross examine witnesses?" asked Smith. "Yes, your Honor," replied Ray. The judge then found Ray guilty, set his sentencing for Jan. 31 and remanded him back into the custody of the sheriff.