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Man gets more time in prison

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A young man with autism whose scuffle with a Stafford County deputy nearly four years ago left the officer with career-ending injuries was ordered Thursday to serve another year in prison.

Reginald Cornelius “Neli” Latson, 22, was convicted of a probation violation in Stafford Circuit Court. The violation stemmed from an incident in August in which Latson tussled with a law enforcement officer in Frederick County, where he was living at a group home.

Latson was convicted earlier this month in Frederick County Circuit Court of assault on a police officer and attempting to disarm a police officer, both felony charges.

He was sentenced to a total of 10 years in prison with all but nine months suspended, court records show.

Stafford Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Olsen argued on Thursday that Latson should serve most of the 81/2 years that were previously suspended in Stafford.

He said it was the only way to protect police officers and the public from Latson’s violent outbursts.

But defense attorney Price Koch put on several professionals who said a lengthy prison term would only make Latson’s condition worse.

One called him “a little boy trapped in a man’s body.”

Judge Charles Sharp, who handled Latson’s last case in Stafford, reduced the 101/2 years a jury recommended, and settled on a one-year sentence. He also ordered Latson to report directly to AdvoServ, a Florida facility that treats people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, immediately upon his release.

Koch said Latson will finish serving his Frederick County sentence in April, at which time he will begin his Stafford term.

Latson’s previous Stafford charges stemmed from a May 24, 2010, altercation with Deputy Tom Calverly outside North Stafford High School. Calverly was investigating a report of a man with a gun in the area when he saw Latson coming out of the woods onto school property.

Latson became agitated as Calverly sought to identify him, according to testimony, and eventually slammed the deputy onto the pavement, punched him in the head and sprayed him with his own pepper spray.

Calverly, a 30-year law-enforcement veteran, suffered severe ankle injuries in the incident and was forced to retire.

The case attracted nationwide attention as numerous Latson supporters argued that he needed treatment, not prison, for a condition he could not control.

Keith Epps: 540/374-5404


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