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Commonwealth's Attorney explains why suspected killer had past charges wiped from record

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Posted at 11:35 PM, Dec 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-23 15:57:29-05

ETTRICK, Va. -- Earlier this month, a Virginia State University student was arrested for the murder of a classmate. Now, CBS 6 is learning how previous charges could be brought up in court.

Isaac Amissah Jr. was charged with four felonies and three misdemeanors stemming from a police chase in Woodbridge in June 2020.

A year later, all but one of the charges is null prossed or dismissed.

In an email on Wednesday, Prince William County's Commonwealth's Attorney Amy Ashworth explained why that was.

Amissah plead guilty to the felony eluding charge on August 26, 2021. At the time, his marijuana charges had insufficient evidence according to prosecutors and Amissah didn't have a criminal record and cooperated with the police investigation.

"Given the circumstances of the arrest and the evidence in the case, this was the most serious and appropriate charge for the Commonwealth to proceed upon and Mr. Amissah freely and voluntarily admitted his guilt," the email read. "There was insufficient evidence to proceed on the marijuana charges given the finding by the Department of Forensic Science that the plant material tested did not meet the legal definition of marijuana. The other charges that were nolle prossed were misdemeanors. The police officers involved were in agreement with this resolution of the case. The Judge accepted Mr. Amissah’s guilty plea and followed the Commonwealth’s recommendation after hearing a summary of the evidence.

"Mr. Amissah, at the time of the offense, was a 19-year-old offender with no prior adult criminal record. He was apologetic for his behavior and cooperative with the police. For the year and two months after the offense, Mr. Amissah was supervised by pretrial and had no violations. Mr. Amissah was ordered to complete 200 hours of public and community service, forfeited all weapons and money seized as a result of the investigation, was ordered to stay away from all drugs, alcohol and guns, and maintain uniform good behavior. Mr. Amissah was placed on two years of active adult supervised probation following his plea on August 26, 2021. All indications at the time were that he was going to be successful on supervision and complete what was required of him to earn a reduction in the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor. If he does not complete the requirements, he will be convicted of the felony charge and sentenced accordingly."

Amissah is the prime murder suspect in the shooting death of fellow Virginia State University freshman Daniel Wharton on December 5 at apartments in Ettrick, less than a mile off of campus.

At this time, detectives are still trying to figure out the motive behind the murder.

Amissah has been charged with second-degree murder and a felony firearm charge.

Legal expert Ed Riley said the gun charge could open the door for prosecutors in Prince William.

"They can certainly bring back the null prossed charges back if they wished," Riley said.

Amissah is due in Chesterfield court on Monday for a bond hearing.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story misattributed a quote to Commonwealth's Attorney Amy Ashworth. The quote should have been attributed to attorney Ed Riley. WTVR regrets the error.