By Lynn R. Mitchell
Sitting across the lunch table from Tim Martin in Staunton earlier this year, I asked why he was challenging long-time incumbent Commonwealth’s Attorney Lee Ervin instead of waiting perhaps one more term when Ervin would possibly retire.
Martin looked at me with a steady stare and replied, “Why not now?”
Why not, indeed. Working as a deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney in Staunton after moving from Richmond to Augusta County in 2013, Martin, 39, easily defeated Ervin on Tuesday with 62 percent of the vote.
When I learned of Martin’s interest in running for Commonwealth’s Attorney, I looked into his background since he was from Richmond — Henrico, to be specific — and I’m from Richmond — Chesterfield, to be exact. That was when I realized his brother was the victim of a well-publicized , horrendous crime in Richmond years ago, a crime many Richmonders remember, and his story is compelling because of that crime. He wrote about it on his campaign website:
When I was in high school, my brother was the victim of a horrendous crime. He and his girlfriend were robbed at gunpoint by complete strangers. They complied with all the demands, but were still shot in the head, execution style. He survived, but she died as a result of her injuries. The men who did it were caught, tried, convicted, and they have both been executed. This event had a profound impact.
After I graduated from college, I got a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice before going to law school. I knew I wanted to be a prosecutor. I was hired out of law school by the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office in Richmond, where I got to work under Learned Barry, the man who prosecuted my brother’s attackers, and a personal hero of mine.
That same intensity was put to use on the campaign trail, and the results were a win. Augusta County not only has a new sheriff but also a new Commonwealth’s Attorney. A page has turned in this corner of the Shenandoah Valley.