The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Boyfriend gets 28 years
BY KEITH EPPS
A man who was convicted of assisting his then-girlfriend in the slaying of her mother was ordered Thursday to serve 28 years in prison.
Eddie Wayne Chewning, 20, of Spotsylvania was sentenced in Stafford County Circuit Court to a total of 38 years with 10 years suspended.
He had previously been convicted by a jury of being an accessory to both first-degree murder and using a firearm in the commission of a felony.
The charges stemmed from the July 5, 2011, slaying of 62-year-old Brenda Dye at her home on Perry Road in the Grafton Village area of southern Stafford.
Dye was shot in the face and chest by her daughter, Ashleigh Nicole Dye, who was 17 at the time.
Ashleigh Dye has already been ordered to serve 48 years in prison.
The victim’s husband and son found the slain woman when they got home from work that evening. She had been dead for several hours.
Chewning, who’d been working with the husband and son for months, rode home with them that evening, but said nothing about what Ashleigh Dye was going to do.
Prosecutors Ed Lustig and Michael Hardiman have maintained all along that Ashleigh Dye and Chewning, who’d been dating about four months at the time, planned the slaying together.
“She pulled the trigger, but he was pulling the strings,” Lustig said during Chewning’s lengthy sentencing hearing.
No clear reason has been given as to why anyone wanted Brenda Dye dead, other than she disapproved of the relationship between Chewning and her daughter, who turned 18 a few months after the slaying.
The key evidence against Chewning was a series of text messages between him and Ashleigh Dye in which they talked about the slaying, both before and after it happened.
Ashleigh Dye also testified that Chewning had encouraged her to kill her mother and had threatened to break up with her if she didn’t.
Ronald Dye, the victim’s husband of 44 years, testified that although he was leery of Chewning, he never expected anything like what happened.
In fact, Dye said Chewning was supposed to accompany his family on a vacation that was scheduled for the week after his wife was killed.
Scott Dye, the victim’s son, said the slaying has devastated the family.
“When we needed something, she was there. Now she’s not.”
Both prosecutors and the Dye family urged Judge Charles Sharp to give Chewning the same sentence that Ashleigh Dye received.
Defense attorney Jim Ilijevich put on witnesses who described Chewning as a loving family member and a good father to his 5-year-old son.
Ilijevich also produced evidence showing that Chewning is mildly retarded and the attorney scoffed at the notion that he controlled Ashleigh Dye’s actions.
“Her problems with her mother did not start [when she started dating Chewning],” Ilijevich said. “He is not the force behind this.”
Judge Sharp agreed that Chewning’s influence over Ashleigh Dye had been exaggerated.
But the judge said he could not ignore text messages that he said showed that Chewning encouraged and supported the murder plot.
“The idea of you sitting in a car with her family knowing what was happening and doing nothing is nothing short of depraved,” Sharp said.
Keith Epps: 540/374-5404