NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Rashad Dooley, the man who skipped out on the verdict when a jury convicted him of three felonies, but not murder, was sentenced to 25 years in prison Friday in connection to the 2011 killing of an ODU student.
Circuit Court Judge Michelle Atkins sentenced Dooley to 25 years active time, plus five years suspended, for conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit burglary, and attempted robbery.
Dooley was among four men arrested in August 2021, ten years after Cummings’ death. The Commonwealth dropped charges against two of them, and Javon Doyle was acquitted of all charges earlier this month. Dooley was the only person convicted of anything in the shooting incident that also left Cummings’ roommate Jake Carey badly wounded.
Virginia law calls for an absolute maximum sentence for the three felony convictions of 30 years. After the pre-sentence evaluation of Dooley that takes into account his background and criminal history, sentencing guidelines called for a high end of 16 years, 6 months. But those guidelines are discretionary when a judge determines sentence.
“If ever there was a case for exceeding the guidelines, this is it,” Atkins said. “I can’t imagine the pain you have gone through several times,” she told James Cummings, “having to look at the crime photos of your son.” Chris Cummings was shot in the face and chest.
“My best friend was taken from us, and that was the worst part of all of this,” Carey said after the sentencing. He told the court how he was wounded in five places, including less than an inch from his carotid artery. He has a 12-inch plate and screws in his arm, and has PTSD.
“We’re finally happy that something came of all of this. this has been a long road for all of us, every day,” Carey said.
James Cummings looked at Dooley directly as he read a victim impact statement, breaking down several times.
“I wanted to be a grandfather, but your cowardly act robbed me of that,” Cummings said.
Dooley faced Cummings, Carey and Carey’s parents, offering his condolences.
“I had nothing to do with this,” Dooley told them. “Justice is not being served. I am not a killer. I hope you have no hatred toward me.”
Cummings referred to Dooley as his son’s “killer” several times, although neither he nor anyone else was convicted of murder in the case.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have called him a killer, but that’s just the way I was feeling. I could not point to anybody else as being convicted as having anything to do with this crime, other than him,” Cummings said.
We asked Commonwealth’s Attorney Ramin Fatehi about a case where there were four original defendants, 52 felony charges, convictions on only three, and no one convicted of murder. Did he consider it a successful prosecution?
“We did our best, we tried the case,” Fatehi said. “We tried our hardest. The system has worked the way the system is designed to work, which is to make it difficult to convict people. I would have liked to have seen convictions on other cases. I will take what we got.”
Dooley’s defense attorney Eric Korslund said he “has been adamant about his innocence throughout this entire trial,” and plans to appeal. Dooley’s grandparents also testified and denied that they believe Dooley was involved in the killing of Cummings.
James Cummings described his son’s last post on Facebook, shortly before his death: “I have a house in the sky, and God is my landlord”.
Cummings found it comforting.
“It meant a lot to me because for one thing that told me he believed in God.”
Cummings said he still dreams about his son.
In one of those dreams, Chris tells him, “It’s been 10 years. You have to let me go Dad.”