Closing Arguments Over in After Hours Video Case

Tod Hunter
STAUNTON, Va. — The misdemeanor obscenity case against After Hours Video, its owner Rick Krial and store clerk Tinsley Embrey went to the jury this afternoon after closing arguments ended shortly before 1 p.m. EDT.

U.S Justice Department prosecutor Matthew Buzzelli said the trial is not about privacy issues.

“It’s about consequences for not playing by the rules. Your free choice has limitations.”

Defense attorney Paul Cambria, representing Krial, said, “Freedoms have never been a majority rule concept. Freedoms are hard to get and easy to lose.”

Louis Sirkin, representing Embrey, speaking of Staunton prosecutor Raymond C. Robertson, said, “Don’t let him become your community censor.”

In his arguments, Robertson claimed that Staunton could become another Las Vegas if stores like After Hours Video are allowed to flourish.

“It’s great to say, ‘To each his own,’ but not when it destroys the morals and decency of a community,” Robertson said.

Robertson's case suffered a setback yesterday when former Staunton police chief Butch Wells was disqualified as an expert witness for the prosecution. Robertson had hoped to get Wells, the city’s police chief from 1986-2003, to testify regarding the community standards of Staunton.

The jury was excused while the court determined Wells' qualifications as an expert witness. The former chief testified that since 1971, when he moved to the city, there have been no brothels and peep shows, and just one incident of prostitution. He did not recall any businesses that sold videos with adult sexual content.

Cambria argued that Wells did not represent a cross section of the community, saying “It’s clear that these are his personal opinions."

After nearly an hour of deliberations, Circuit Judge Thomas H. Wood said, “Based on the cases I’ve read, he isn’t an expert.”

Krial and Embrey face two charges each of misdemeanor obscenity pertaining to two DVDs purchased by undercover police in October, shortly after the adult video store opened for business. After Hours Video also faces two charges of obscenity.