Man arrested, charged in death of 80-year-old in Isle of Wight

Justin Burch. Credit: Newport News Police Department

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A Smithfield man has been charged with voluntary manslaughter in the death of an 80-year-old man.

Justin Keith Burch, 33, was arrested by Newport News police Wednesday following an investigation into the death of William Pulley.

Police say Pulley died Sept. 9 from complications resulting from a head injury.

Deputies with the Isle of Wight Sheriff’s Office were called to Water Oak Drive on Aug. 31 for a report about a man lying in the street. They found Pulley disheveled and confused, and investigators say it was originally thought Pulley may have been intoxicated.

Pulley was taken home that day after being checked out by EMS personnel.

Deputies were again called to check on Pulley’s welfare on Sept. 2, after it was reported that he had not been seen by residents of a mobile home community.

“It’s shocking. Like I said, very quiet both of them. Very nice and generous,” said neighbor Jeanette Bailey. “Who would’ve thought?”

A responding deputy found Pulley unresponsive in his home. Pulley was taken to Sentara Obici Hospital after it was discovered that he had a skull fracture with internal cranial bleeding.

Investigators later discovered that Pulley had been in an argument with Burch on Aug. 31. Burch reportedly hit Pulley, which caused him to fall backwards and hit his head on the pavement.

Joshua Outten, who also lives in the neighborhood, said, “We don’t have stuff like this happen in this neighborhood, you know?”

Investigators say they now believe Pulley was not intoxicated, and could have been suffering from effects of head injuries he sustained in the altercation with Burch.

“Mr. Burch hit Mr. Pulley. Witnesses say when he hit him, Mr. Pulley fell straight backwards and struck his head,” said Lt. Tommy Potter with Isle of Wight Sheriff’s Office.

“Shocking. Like I said, I thought we were safe around here,” said Bailey.

Burch is currently being held at Newport News City Jail with no bond.