Autopsy confirms Virginia woman was mauled to death by her own pit bulls

An autopsy has confirmed that a Virginia woman believed to have been mauled to death by her own pit bulls in December did indeed die from “trauma due to mauling by animals.”

Goochland County Sheriff Jim Agnew said on Tuesday that the investigation into the death of 22-year-old Bethany Lynn Stephens has been closed in light of her autopsy results. 

“The medical examiner’s report substantiated what we observed,” said Sheriff Agnew. “I hope that the family can get some peace now. There are going to be those who aren’t going to believe and pick apart all the things that we’ve done, and that’s their prerogative, but unless somebody steps forward with some really strong evidence, we’ve closed this.”

Stephens was found dead in the woods in Goochland County, Virginia, by her father on Dec. 14 at around 8 p.m.

After failing to hear from his daughter that night, the concerned parent called 911 and then went looking for her in an area where she often walked her two dogs, Pac-Man and Tonka.

Stephens’s father eventually discovered his daughter’s mangled body, which he said was being aggressively “guarded” by the two pit bulls.

Sheriff Agnew said that once officers arrived at the scene, they spent over an hour trying to capture the large pit bulls, which were believed to both weigh as much as their 5-foot-1, 125-pound owner.

Stephens’ body was then taken to a medical examiner’s office, where the gruesome details of the attack came to light. 

“The first traumatic injury to her was to her throat and face,” Sheriff Agnew said after reviewing the medical examiner’s initial report. “It appears she was taken to the ground, lost consciousness, and the dogs then mauled her to death.”

“The victim had defensive wounds on her hands and arms trying to keep the dogs away from her, which would be consistent with being attacked while she was still alive.”

The medical examiner’s final report, released on Feb. 20, confirmed their initial beliefs. 

“Overall, the combination of wounds is consistent with the mauling by an animal or animals, possibly dogs,” the report says. “Additionally, there was evidence of extensive postmortem animal predation at the face, torso and arms.”

The report says no drugs or alcohol were found in Stephens’ system and that there was no evidence of a gunshot, strangulation or any other kind of attack.

“Stephens was not raped, and this was not a homicide,” the report declares. 

The Sheriff’s Office said one of the dogs had a history of aggression and had snapped at a previous owner. Both animals were euthanized with the permission of Stephens’ family following the attack. 

“It was an absolutely grisly mauling,” Sheriff Agnew said. “In my 40 years of law enforcement, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. I hope I never see anything like it again.”

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Virginia State Senator Richard Black: Mueller indicted 13 Russians to drag probe out and keep his position (VIDEO)



By indicting Russian nationals and entities for meddling in the 2016 US election, FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller seeks to drag the probe out for his own gain, Virginia State Senator Richard Black told RT.

Thirteen Russian individuals and three entities, were accused of attempting to advance the presidential bid of Donald Trump and tarnish the reputation of Hillary Clinton with the ultimate goal to “spread distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.” However, none of the activities described in the indictment were able to sway the vote, US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told media.

According to Black, the lackluster outcome of the ever-widening investigation invokes suspicion that although Mueller knows there’s nothing substantial to uncover, he and his team will continue feeding the media headline-grabbers to keep his rather lucrative job.

“To a certain extent, I think, Robert Muller is struggling to keep alive his position of a special counsel. The special counsel has already earned 7 million dollars. When you become a special counsel, you have an open checkbook for the US Treasury and you are guaranteed to become a mega-millionaire if you simply can drag out the proceedings,” Black told RT.

I suspect that this is just a case of dragging out the proceedings, throwing some indictments on some silly things – not registering as a foreign agent – that typically is not prosecuted, but they are prosecuting it in this case because they are running out of ideas.

The latest twist of the Russia probe saga, which has so far failed to provide any proof of Trump’s collusion with Moscow, indicates that “there is simply nothing there to go after,” Black said. He noted that since both sides appear to agree that the alleged meddling could not have changed the outcome of the election, the probe is essentially “irrelevant.”

The record of US intelligence, which is no stranger to providing “completely fabricated” intel, does not lend much credibility to the “intelligence assessments” over the Kremlin’s alleged role in the election, Black said.

I’m not really impressed, I want facts; I don’t want some generalized conclusions from these intelligence agencies,” he said, noting that if he were Trump, he would ask them to “show precisely” what evidence they have in their hands.

Back believes that what is really on the agenda is to rein in Trump so he will not oppose the hawks in their pursuit of hostile foreign policy towards Russia.

“One of the things they wanted to do is to undermine Donald Trump and to keep him constantly on the defensive against Russia so he cannot do the rational thing, which is to reduce the tensions with Russia, to draw back from the Russian borders,” he said, noting that the “deep state” seeks confrontation with Russia as it allows them to “sell weapons and increase the size of the military.”

Speaking about the claims that Russia-linked operatives spent $100,000 on Facebook ads to promote divisive social and political issues to stir up American voters, Black compared it with throwing a penny to a beggar,” arguing that by “creating chaos” in the election, nobody could have achieved anything, “no matter who they are.”

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North Atlantic right whale discovered dead off Virginia coast, 1st in 2018

At least 18 North Atlantic right whales have now died in Canadian and U.S. last year and this winter.


Another North Atlantic right whale has been found dead, the first to be recorded in 2018 and the 18th since last year.

The whale was reportedly found off the coast of Virginia on Jan. 22.

Jennifer Goebel, a spokesperson for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), confirmed the information to Global News on Thursday.

According to NOAA, the remains of the whale appeared to be wrapped in a fishing line.

Based on past experience with entangled whales the NOAA believe the whale was alive and swimming when it encountered the line.

Canada implements new restrictions

The discovery of the whale comes only two days after the federal fisheries minister announced four measures aimed at protecting right whales from entanglement in fishing gear.

“Protecting Canada’s endangered whales from further harm is a responsibility that weighs heavily on all of us,” Dominic LeBlanc said Tuesday in Moncton.

LeBlanc said four new rules for the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence snow crab fishery will greatly reduce the amount of rope that can be left floating on the surface when crab pots are set – to no more than 3.7 metres.

“In addition, no rope attaching a crab trap to a primary buoy can remain floating on the surface of the water after the crab trap has been set,” he said.

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Just Say No To Jeffie Sessions: Virginia To Decriminalize Cannabis ~ Nullifies Federal Meddling In State Laws

RICHMOND, Va. (Jan. 8, 2017) – A bill introduced in the Virginia Senate would decriminalize marijuana possession. Passage into law would take a step toward nullifying federal cannabis prohibition in effect in the state.

Introduced by Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), Senate Bill 111 (SB111) would make marijuana possession “subject to a civil penalty of no more than $50, upon a second violation is subject to a civil penalty of no more than $100, and upon a third or subsequent violation is subject to a civil penalty of no more than $250.”

  1. Cannabis The Most Medicinal Plant on the Planet: Nicknamed Marijuana!

There could be additional penalties levied at the discretion of the court for marijuana possession offenses. SB111 allows a court to “deprive the person so penalized of the privilege to drive or operate a motor vehicle, engine, or train in the Commonwealth for a period of six months from the date of such judgment.”

However, despite the possible consequences for simple possession, passage of SB111 would chip away at marijuana prohibition in the Old Dominion State.

“We cannot continue to hide behind a fear of a plant in our criminal code,” Sen. Ebbin said in a Washington Post report.

Despite the federal prohibition on marijuana, measures such as SB111 remain perfectly constitutional, and the feds can do little if anything to stop them in practice.

Nullifying Federal Meddling In State Laws


Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the feds maintain complete prohibition of cannabis. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.

Decriminalization of marijuana in Virginia would remove a layer of laws prohibiting the possession of marijuana, but federal prohibition will remain on the books.

FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By mostly ending state prohibition, Virginia essentially sweeps away most of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.

Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly-budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.

Passage of SB111 would begin to erode federal prohibition and that the first step toward nullifying it in practice in the state.


Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska were the first states to legalized recreational cannabis, with California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts joining them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization were passed in those states last November.

  1. Judge Rules Montana Marijuana Dispensaries To Re-Open Immediately: “Folks Are Speaking With Their Votes.”
  2. The Federal Government Lacks Any Constitutional Authority To Regulate Cannabis: State Of Washington Protects Citizens Freedom To Use Cannabis As THEY See Fit.

With more than two-dozen states allowing cannabis for medical use as well, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition anymore.

“The lesson here is pretty straightforward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.


  1. Marijuana Prohibition Is Unjust, Unscientific, & Unconstitutional.

SB111 was referred to the Senate Courts of Justice Committee where it will need to pass by a majority vote before moving forward in the legislative process.

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Republican Wins Drawing Settling Tied Virginia House Of Delegates Race

Republican David Yancey on Thursday won a tied election for a Virginia House of Delegates seat when state officials picked his name out of a bowl.

The name drawing settles the disputed election for the 94th District seat, at least for now, and allows Republicans to maintain control of the Virginia House of Delegates.

Simonds, however, refused to concede, saying “all options are still on the table,” according to NBC reporter Vaughn Hillyard.

Yancey was initially declared the winner of the November election, but after a recount, Democrat Shelly Simonds was deemed the victor by one vote. When a court reviewed the recount, lawyers for Yancey found a single ballot they believed should have been counted for the Republican, and the court agreed to accept it.

That meant the race was officially a tie, which Virginia state law requires to be determined “by lot” ― through such random processes as picking a name out of a hat, drawing straws or flipping a coin. 

Lawyers for Simonds unsucessfully sought to get a local court to prevent the drawing, and said Simonds should be the election winner because the court that declared the race a tie failed to follow proper recount procedures. 

The day before the drawing, Simonds asked Yancey to agree to accept its results, but he declined. It’s unclear whether the drawing will be contested. 

Republican David Yancey and Democrat Shelly Simonds shortly after the November election. (The Washington Post via Getty Images)Republican David Yancey and Democrat Shelly Simonds shortly after the November election. (The Washington Post via Getty Images)
  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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Battle Over Contested Virginia House Of Delegates Seat Will Drag On

The dramatic race for a Virginia House of Delegates seat that could decide which party controls the chamber — a race that’s come down to a name-drawing — is expected to continue into the new year.

After postponing the original name-drawing earlier this week, James Alcorn, chair of the state’s Board of Elections, on Friday rescheduled the name-drawing for Jan. 4 “unless the court system intervenes.”

On the eve of the original name-drawing Wednesday, Democratic candidate Shelly Simonds filed a court motion contesting a previous decision to count a contested ballot for her opponent, Republican incumbent David Yancey.

If Simonds were to win the seat, Republicans would lose their majority in Virginia’s House of Delegates after 17 years.

The court has yet to address the matter, as some of its judges are out of town for the holidays.

“Drawing names is an action of last resort,” Alcorn said Wednesday. “Any substantive concerns regarding the election or recount should be resolved before a random drawing is conducted.”

The turmoil over the seat has dragged on for more than a month. A recount originally proclaimed Simonds the winner by a mere one vote. Yancey then won a lawsuit that allowed a previously uncounted ballot to be counted as marked for him ― bringing the race to a tie.

Virginia House Democrats have called Yancey’s lawsuit a “desperate effort to change the outcome and steal the election” from Simonds.

“The court erred both in admitting the ballot for consideration, which broke the rules of the citizen-led recount process, as well as in counting the ballot for Yancey, which, according to guidelines from the State Board of Elections, had already been accurately classified as an overvote by both the Democratic and the Republican observers,” House Democratic Caucus spokesperson Katie Baker said in a statement Friday.

Virginia state law indicates that electoral ties should be resolved “by lot.” The candidate “who loses the determination by lot” could call for another recount.

This article has been updated with a statement from the Virginia House Democratic Caucus.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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Virginia Will Break Tie For Key Seat By Randomly Pulling A Name From A Bowl

In a closely watched, nail-biting race that after a recount and legal challenge ended in a tie, the winner of a crucial state legislative seat in Virginia apparently will be decided by a name pulled out of a bowl next week.

Next Wednesday, the names of Democrat Shelly Simonds and Republican David Yancey will be written on pieces of paper, placed into separate film canisters and then put in a bowl. A member of the state Board of Elections then will pull out the winning name, board chair James Alcorn told HuffPost.

The stakes are high in this exercise of sheer chance: If Simonds were to win, Republicans would lose majority control of the House of Delegates after 17 years.

Earlier this week, a recount had Simonds leading by one vote in Virginia’s 94th House district. But after a challenge by Yancey focusing on a contested ballot that had been ruled invalid, a three-judge panel declared that the vote would count for the Republican incumbent. That made the race a tie, with each candidate receiving 11,608 votes.

According to Virginia law, such a tie is to be broken “by lot” ― such as picking a name from a bowl. What’s not entirely clear is whether, after a winner is picked in this race, the loser will have any recourse to challenge the result. Virginia law allows for a recount after a tiebreaker ― but there has already been a recount in this race, as noted by reporter Reema Amin with the Newport News, Virginia-based Daily Press.

The battle between Republican David Yancey and Democrat Shelly Simonds for a state legislative seat in Virginia now hinges on the luck of the draw. (The Washington Post via Getty Images)The battle between Republican David Yancey and Democrat Shelly Simonds for a state legislative seat in Virginia now hinges on the luck of the draw. (The Washington Post via Getty Images)

If Yancey ultimately prevails, the GOP will control the House of Delegates by one seat, 51-49. If Simonds ends up the winner, the two parties will have to work out a power-sharing arrangement in the chamber.

While election ties are unheard of in recent U.S.history at the federal level and rare for state offices, they do happen occasionally in local races. And in most states, such ties are broken in the same way Virginia’s will be: by some process of pure chance, including tossing a coin, drawing straws, or picking cards from a deck.  

The last tie decided by lot in Virginia by the board of elections appears to have been for a House of Delegates seat in 1971.

As the new cliffhanger in Virginia awaits resolution ― and control of its lower legislative chamber is determined ― one thing is clear: Every vote can make a difference.  

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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Control Of Virginia's House Of Delegates Could Come Down To Drawing Straws

A three-judge panel in Virginia decided Wednesday to count a ballot cast for a Republican in a race for the state’s House of Delegates that was decided by just one vote, meaning the contest is now a tie.

A recount completed Tuesday determined Democrat Shelly Simonds had defeated Republican incumbent David Yancey by just one vote. The race is being closely watched because control of the Virginia House of Delegates hinges on its outcome.

Judges on the Newport News Circuit Court determined Wednesday that a ballot on which the voter had marked the bubbles for both Yancey and Simonds, and then tried to clarify which one, should have been counted for Yancey rather than discarded during the recount. 

The ballot in question apparently had marks for Yancey and Simonds, with a strike through Simonds’ name. The voter had also put a strike through their vote for Ed Gillespie, the Republican candidate for governor. 

According to a provision in a Virginia law, a general assembly race that results in a tie is decided by the state Board of Elections determining a winner “by lot” ― meaning the winner is selected through a process like picking names out of a hat, drawing straws or flipping a coin. This means that control of the House of Delegates could hinge on a process that leaves the outcome up to chance.

If Simonds wins, the House of Delegates will be split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats. If Yancey wins, Republicans will have a 51-49 majority in the chamber.

Speaking to reporters after the decision, Yancey declined to comment on the possibility of a coin toss, saying he was focused on Wednesday’s results and serving the people of his district. He said his understanding was that the Virginia Board of Elections would determine what happened next.

Republicans have controlled the Virginia House of Delegates for 17 years.

Marc Elias, an attorney for the Virginia Democratic Party, said in a statement that the court’s ruling was incorrect.

“Today’s decision by the court was wrong, and Delegate-elect Shelly Simonds should have been certified the winner. We are currently assessing all legal options before us as we fight for a just result,” Elias said. “The Republicans themselves had affirmed that this result was accurate yesterday before changing their minds today. After conceding this seat and their majority, they are now desperately trying to claw both back ‘like a snarling dog that won’t let go of a bone.’”

This article has been updated with additional details about the decision and comment from Elias. 

Republican David Yancey and Democrat Shelly Simonds attend a "take your legislator to school day" at Heritage High School in Newport News, Virginia, on on Nov. 28. (The Washington Post via Getty Images)Republican David Yancey and Democrat Shelly Simonds attend a "take your legislator to school day" at Heritage High School in Newport News, Virginia, on on Nov. 28. (The Washington Post via Getty Images)
  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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PBS Analyst: If Dems Lose In Virginia, It’ll Be ‘Close to Civil War Within the Democratic Party’

SHIELDS: it’s a serious charge made by a serious person, Donna Brazile. Could not come at a worse time for the Democrats, on the eve of the Virginia, just as David is talking about, generating interest, enthusiasm and turnout, this is anything — will do anything but.

But I will say this, Judy. It has the ring of authenticity about it. Donna Brazile was exposed herself for having given questions before a debate when she was at CNN to Hillary Clinton. She’s a person of enormous talent. I think, if anything, this is sort of cri de coeur, a statement of what she believes, and to come clean.

But I will say this, that it’s proof, more than anything else, to me of how little Barack Obama cared about the Democratic Party or about politics. He was great at getting elected. He got a national majority twice in a row. Nobody had done that since Eisenhower. He was leaving the party $24 million in debt, therefore, vulnerable to Hillary Clinton’s coterie of big givers. Bernie Sanders didn’t have big givers, as we know.

WOODRUFF: And President Trump now, David, is saying the Democratic Party should be investigated, the Clinton campaign should be investigated by the Justice Department, the FBI.

BROOKS: Yes, I don’t know about that. But those of us who are trying to rebut populists like Trump have the disadvantage that our elites really do stink. And this is an advantage — example of that.

It was sort of an open secret that the DNC was on Hillary Clinton’s side. We saw it from the schedule of the debates all through the year. They didn’t want to have them, because they didn’t want to give Sanders the platform. But this goes beyond what even I imagined was the level of collusion. It’s a pretty sleazy economic takeover of a party apparatus, against the bylaws of that apparatus.

It’s just not something a normal campaign that respects institutions and how things should work should do. And so they colluded, apparently, according to Donna Brazile, in a pretty major way. And if you were a Sanders person, you have every right to be completely upset.

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