RONDA — On Friday, the newest chapter in the saga of Ronda Mayor Victor Varela and Commissioner Manuel Wood closed as presiding Judge Robert J. Crumpton declared Wood not guilty and a prayer for judgment continued for Varela.
After hearing testimony from Wood expounding on the details contained in the initial warrant served Varela on Dec. 26, 2016, including the information that his son was a witness, Crumpton responded with prayer for judgment continued.
Usually used in the cases of traffic violations, prayer for judgment continued is unique to the North Carolina justice system and is not available to non-residents. Often including no other penalty than court costs, a PJC is not a guilty conviction.
According to dozierlawfirm.com out of Raleigh, “a PJC may still show up in a criminal background check and may be counted as a prior conviction for criminal sentencing purposes. In addition, subsequent convictions within a certain period may result in the PJC being rescinding and a sentenced imposed for the original charge. A PJC can also be set in order to continue a case for a specified period with the idea that at some later date the State of North Carolina may pray judgment.”
“[The case] turned out the way I thought it would to begin with,” alleged Wood. “I didn’t want to see him get in no trouble. I’m not mad at him and I hope he’s not mad at me.”
“I am disappointed with the judge’s verdict especially after hearing the numerous falsehoods made by Commissioner Wood and his son on the witness stand,” claimed Varela in an official statement. “I’m sure that with the proper preparation I could uncover his falsehoods and prevail on appeal but have chosen not to because of the time, expense involved and further damage to the town. It should be noted that the judge in this case did not assess a fine, community service nor probation so I am just going to let it go.”
“It’s over so we need to get on with it,” acknowledged Wood. “I want to see everyone get along. I want what’s best for the people [of Ronda].”
In spite of the assault and battery charges levied against one another, Varela and Wood have had congenial interactions both in and out of town hall and have been able to work together on the board without further actual or alleged violence.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Twitter @TBeanieTaylor.