Charges dismissed against man accused of assaulting woman in Shockoe Bottom

Posted at 12:05 PM, May 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-17 06:12:55-04

RICHMOND, Va. — The charges against a 22-year-old Richmond man accused of choking and assaulting a woman in Shockoe Bottom in March have been dropped, according to Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette McEachin.

Richmond’s deputy commonwealth's attorney and Ladell Holmes’ public defender agreed to dismiss the charges.

“The reason for the dismissal, as given to us from the Commonwealth, is that after reviewing the evidence, they did not believe that Mr. Holmes was the perpetrator,” explained Holmes’ attorney Rebecca Pensak. “I do think that's a very important distinction — he was exonerated of the charge once the evidence was reviewed further.”

Richmond Police reported that a woman was badly assaulted in an alley off North 19th Street on March 26.

RPD held a press conference 23 days later and said they had identified Holmes as the suspect in the assault.

They said a tip from the public led to the 22-year-old’s arrest at a hotel about 48 hours later.

On May 5, Holmes was facing malicious wounding and strangulation charges in Richmond Circuit Court before they were dismissed.

His sister, Paula Akinwole, has been working to clear his name.

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Paula Akinwole (left) and her brother, Ladell Holmes (right)

“What I'm looking at is a 22-year-old Black male who's unhoused with mental health conditions, who have, again, the court of public opinion deciding that he is guilty,” she stated. “I’m one of those people that read articles. So, I see how people respond. It's very much guilty by a court of public opinion. I just didn't want to see that type of comments about my brother.”

Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette McEachin confirmed the charges were dismissed due to "evidentiary issues," but wouldn't elaborate on specifics.

Akinwole said she wants Richmond Police to apologize for labeling her brother as a violent offender and to issue a retraction of their remarks.

In response, Richmond Police offered the following statement:

"The evidence developed by detectives, after consultation with the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, was presented to a grand jury, which returned with an indictment. Following the indictment, the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney decided not to move forward with these charges at this time. Detectives are still investigating."

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email to send a tip.

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