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Court denies appeal of Duffield man serving life term for shooting Scott deputy

Wes Bunch • Jul 9, 2013 at 9:16 PM

GATE CITY — A Duffield man who entered an Alford plea in the 2010 shooting of a Scott County sheriff’s deputy had his third attempt to appeal his convictions denied Monday by the Virginia Court of Appeals.

Jonathan Matthew Qualls, 36, of Duffield, is currently serving a life sentence for the August 2010 shooting of Scott County Sheriff’s Deputy Thomas Bowen. Qualls shot Bowen twice in the chest and upper right arm with a .45-caliber semiautomatic weapon before fleeing into the woods behind his home and sparking a massive manhunt that led to his arrest.

Qualls entered an Alford plea in 2011 to a charge of attempted capital murder of a police officer and also pleaded guilty to the felonious use of a firearm and being a violent felon in possession of a firearm.

Qualls’ delayed appeal, which was filed April 16, was attempting to have those charges overturned on the grounds he involuntarily entered his pleas without understanding the nature of the charges against him or the consequences of those pleas.

In an Alford Plea, the criminal defendant does not admit the act, but admits that the prosecution could likely prove the charge.

In the response handed down Monday, Virginia Court of Appeals Clerk Cynthia L. McCoy denied Qualls’ delayed appeal on the grounds it wasn’t filed during the proper time period.

According to McCoy’s filing, Qualls had an appeal denied on Feb. 1, 2012 because he did not file it in a timely manner. A delayed appeal was then denied in March because Qualls was not “permitted leave to pursue” it.

The latest delayed appeal was rejected Monday, McCoy wrote, because Qualls did not file it within six months of the Feb. 1, 2012, date.

The Scott County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office said Monday that it declined to answer the appeal.

“We didn’t answer the appeal,” McClung said. “Not because this case isn’t important, because anytime an officer gets shot, or hurt, it’s vitally important to our office and the community. So that’s not why we didn’t answer it. We just thought the appeal, for lack of a better word, wasn’t valid. And it seems the court felt the same way.”

McClung said Qualls could appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court if he chooses.

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