NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A jury needed little more than an hour to return a not guilty verdict for Chesapeake Councilwoman Amanda Newins, on one felony count of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult.
The case involved her great uncle Bobby Davis and the home he had shared with his wife Shirley for 48 years on Kempsville Road.
Virginia Beach Neurologist Cathy Cao testified that she determined that Bobby Davis had severe dementia by December, 2020. Two months later, the Davises signed a deed transferring the property to Newins. Davis was 82 when he died in April, 2021.
Surrounded by family, Chesapeake Councilwoman Amanda Newins was still emotional outside the courthouse after she had been brought to tears by the not guilty verdict.
“My uncle was like my father, like everyone heard. He raised me, he shaped me into the woman that I am today. So the allegations were extremely hurtful, and finally hearing the not guilty verdict was a rush of emotions.”
The Commonwealth alleged that Newins had exploited her uncle’s mental state so that she could get the home. But her attorney Kristin Paulding got the jury to focus on a very narrow timeline – essentially, the day the Davises signed the deed. The five women and seven men of the jury found that Davis was not demented at that moment.
“We’re thrilled, I mean we’ve been waiting now for seven months and that’s the exact verdict that we wanted,” Paulding said.
Prosecutor Bill Braxton of Roanoke County told the jury that Newins was deceptive when she testified Wednesday about the deed and other legal documents.
“That was my interpretation of the evidence, but obviously, the jury felt differently,” Braxton said.
Shirley Davis, 83, testified at the trial that she signed the deed and other documents including a power of attorney because she trusted Newins.
At the trial, Newins and her husband both testified about how the Davis’ were like parents to Newins and that she “loved them more than anyone on this earth.” They said they helped out the couple for years, cooking food for them and taking them to doctor appointments.
Newins said she had already been a practicing attorney for four years when she suggested in 2020 that Bobby and Shirley Davis have her inherit their home if both died.
Newins however still faces a civil trial after Shirley Davis filed an $890,000 lawsuit in the case. That’s expected to start in December.
This article is breaking and will be updated.