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Slaying suspect says he didn’t mean to shoot boy

An Orange County man charged with killing his girlfriend’s 10-year-old son says he did not intend to hurt the boy.

In a court hearing Monday, the prosecutor in the case did not dispute the suggestion that the boy was an unintended victim, but told the judge she believes the second-degree murder charge is warranted.

Billy Joe Lee was charged with child endangerment, felony child abuse and neglect, shooting in the commission of a felony, and discharging a firearm in a dwelling in the April 6 death of George “Bubbie” Toombs.

That charge was later amended by Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Clarissa Berry to discharging a firearm within an occupied building resulting in the death of a person. Lee is being held without bond at the Central Virginia Regional Jail.

Neighbors said Lee had been living with the boy’s mother, Tina Marie Toombs, in the rural 16000 block of Matthews Mill Road. Tina Toombs is free on $5,000 bond on charges of felony child abuse and neglect.

Orange County authorities have released little specific information about the incident.

At a Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court hearing before Judge Frank W. Somerville on Monday, Berry expanded the previous explanation slightly, alleging that Lee discharged a firearm during an argument at the home and the boy was fatally wounded.

When the judge asked whether the child was the intended victim, Berry responded, “Whether he was or not, the shooting occurred, and the commonwealth believes the circumstances meet the statutory requirements for the equivalent of second-degree murder charges.”

The judge then said it sounded as if Tina Toombs was the intended victim. Berry offered no response.

Defense attorney Jack Maus read from Lee’s written statement that he “did not mean to hurt anyone,” “loved the child” and “did not mean to hurt the child.” He also said that Lee had indicated that he intended to retain other counsel for later court appearances.

Berry requested that the court prohibit Lee from attempting to contact Tina Toombs. She said Lee had already tried to do so, and that “calling such contact unwelcome would be an understatement.”

She also indicated that her office preferred to try Lee and Toombs separately, rather than jointly.

Setting the preliminary hearing for both cases for June 2, Somerville explained to Lee that his case could possibly go to a grand jury in late July, and ordered that he remain in custody.

In Toombs’ separate hearing, attorney Catherine Lea asked the judge to modify the conditions of her client’s’ bond that prohibited Toombs from coming within 300 feet of the Matthews Mill Road home.

Berry said there was now “no investigative reason why Ms. Toombs cannot now go to the home,” but added that investigators may need to return to the dwelling, and asked that Toombs not require them to get a search warrant if they do.

The judge agreed to allow Toombs back in to the home, with the provision that she not require a search warrant for further entry by authorities.

Dan McFarland: