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Richmond man charged with killing friend in boating crash

Posted at 12:38 PM, Dec 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-09 09:53:10-05

LANCASTER COUNTY, Va. -- The Lancaster County Sheriff's Office re-arrested Rand Hooper and charged the Richmond man with felony homicide.

Tuesday's arrest came more than a month after the special prosecutor appointed to handle the case, Matt Kite, dismissed all charges against Hooper.

Rand Hooper
Rand Hooper

Kite, who is the Commonwealth's Attorney in King William County, has now turned around and charged Hooper with an even stiffer penalty.

Hooper is accused of driving his boat while drunk, crashing it, and leaving his friend Graham McCormick to die.

In addition, Hooper was charged with involuntary manslaughter under the influence of a watercraft, and failing to stop and assist causing serious injury or death.

He is scheduled to be arraigned Friday at 9 a.m. in Lancaster County.

Hooper was released on a $15,000 bond Tuesday.

Hooper was originally arrested and charged with aggravated involuntary manslaughter under the influence in a watercraft, and failing to stop or assist which caused injury or death back in July 2018.

The aggravated involuntary manslaughter charge was eventually amended to the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter under the influence in watercraft as part of a controversial plea deal orchestrated by former Lancaster Commonwealth's Attorney Jan Smith.

Felony homicide is a second-degree murder charge where the law recognizes the defendant did not intend to kill, but in the commission of a felony, in this case driving a boat while drunk, it was reasonably foreseeable that a person might die from the felony, a person is killed.

Felony homicide carries a punishment of up to 40 years in prison, while a person charged with involuntary manslaughter could serve up to 10 years.

In the plea deal orchestrated by Smith, Hooper would have served just one year behind bars: a penalty that McCormick's family did not feel was stiff enough.

"While we had no foreknowledge of the specific charges being filed, we are so relieved to know that Graham will have such strong representation in this pursuit for justice," brother Gordon McCormick said in a statement emailed to CBS 6. "The contrast between Matt Kite and Jan Smith as prosecutors is truly jarring, and no family should ever again have to endure what we have suffered at the hands of the Commonwealth of Virginia."

The original prosecutor, Jan Smith, recently lost his law license over his handling of the case.

This case has seen many twists and turns since the boat crash back in August 2017 on the Rappahannock River in Lancaster County.