Charges dropped against Va. Beach man accused in 2016 murder

FILE -- Virginia Beach police at the scene of a fatal shooting on Connie Lane in May 2016. (Credit: WAVY/Curtis Akers).

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A Virginia Beach man is now clear of murder charges in a 2016 deadly shooting.

Police said in May 2016 that Leander Williams III shot 43-year-old Antonio B. Cameron in the stomach on Connie Lane.

Cameron later died at the hospital, and Williams was charged with his murder.

However, charges against Williams were dropped last week. A judge decided in court on Monday morning not to reconsider a motion that was filed after the charges were tossed.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Colin Stolle says the charges were dropped because the case was mismanaged by his office.

Here’s what happened.

To understand what happened today, you have to go back to the beginning of the trial. Last week, Leander Williams III’s murder trial started and went through one day of testimony. Then it all went south.

“There was a sick attorney, the remaining attorney requested a continuance, it was denied,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Colin Stolle explained.

With prosecutor Michael Defricke out with an illness, Stolle said his chief deputy prosecutor, Scott Vachris, advised the other prosecutors to nolle prosse charges.

“Nolle prossing the charges was a fatal error in the prosecution of the case,” Stolle said.

A judge ruled that dismissing the charges meant Williams can never be tried again because the trial had started and witnesses had testified. Stolle immediately fired Vachris.

“Some mistakes are inexcusable and require swift and immediate action,” Stolle explained.

Today, prosecutors tried to get a judge to vacate the Commonwealth’s motion to nolle prosse the charges. The judge declined and Williams officially went free. That didn’t go over well with Antonio Cameron’s family.

“He definitely got away with murder,” said Cameron’s mother Brenda Tate. “He went down there he brought them the gun and said he shot him.”

In the end, the Commonwealth’s Attorney took blame.

“I have given my apologies to the victim’s family and to all the citizens of Virginia Beach for how this case was handled,” Stolle said.