Defense Attorneys Challenge Guilty Verdicts in After Hours Video Case

Bob Preston
STAUNTON, Va. — Basing their argument on bad evidence and bad statements introduced during the trial of After Hours Video storeowner Rick Krial, defense attorneys have filed motions asking to have the two guilty verdicts set aside.

Jurors in the case convicted Krial and the After Hours Video store on misdemeanor charges of selling an obscene item. Krial was fined $1,000 and the store was fined $1,500. Krial and the store were found not guilty on a second charge of obscenity, and store employee Tinsley Embrey was found not guilty on two misdemeanor charges of obscenity.

Led by Paul Cambria Jr. of Buffalo, N.Y., defense attorneys argued that the "improper statements" were intended to inflame the "passions and prejudices of the jurors." The 29-page filings also argued that the prosecution introduced improper evidence during the trial.

“The commonwealth’s attorney repeatedly implored the jury to prevent Staunton from becoming like other places," the motion reads. "In doing so, he relied upon numerous facts that were not in evidence, such as the lack of immorality in Staunton and the causal connection between observing sexual material and behavior.”

Defense attorneys also took exception with this passage from prosecuting attorney Raymond C. Robertson's closing statement:

"[Y]ou know why I can’t run naked down Beverley Street or why I can’t have incest?" he asked. "Because communities and states and the nation have a right to make laws that protect the decency and the morality of their people.”

In an August article posted by the editorial board of the Staunton News-Leader, newspaper staffers questioned the split decision returned in the obscenity case of a local video store.

In a column titled simply, "What Happened?" the paper's senior editorial staff offered a mixed lament about the verdict, while simultaneously wondering about their community's standards and also questioning the value of obscenity prosecutions.