Relative: Arnder family not okay with delays

To the Editor,

The murder of Donald Claude Arnder not only lingers with the Mount Airy residents after more than three years, but it lingers with the family as well while the three suspects who are charged with murder, felony conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon, and felonious attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon, await trial for this monstrous crime.

It may be “ok with police” to be comfortable with the delays. However, it is not “ok with the family” of the victim. Detective Brad Quesinberry’s statement that, “we know we’ve done the right things and we’ve kept the (victimized) families informed – there’s been no issues with that” is untrue. We have not been kept apprised of the case by the Mount Airy Police Department nor Surry County District Attorney Ricky Bowman.

In fact, the last call we received was in March from Peggy M. Edwards with the Surry County District Attorney’s office questioning if we had received a call from Zachary Lee, Assistant United States Attorney of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia; who was presumably looking to extradite the three suspects to face federal charges prior to their trial in Surry County. We have not.

In addition, we only learned of the trial being docketed for the July 28 session of Surry Superior Court from reading your June 2 article. No one from the Mount Airy Police Department, nor Surry County District Attorney’s office informed us of this new trial date. And we still don’t know what the U. S. Attorney General’s office has planned.

What happened to the Speedy Trial Act of 1974? The sixth amendment guarantees all criminal defendants in state and federal courts the right to a speedy and public trial. The right exists to prevent oppressive pretrial detention, to limit the possibility that the defense of the accused will be impaired, and to minimize the anxiety, public scorn and suspicion, and potential “chilling effect” of unresolved charges. I do not believe anyone would consider a three-year delay to be a speedy trial.

The family seeks justice after the brutal murder of Donald Arnder, who was a pillar of the Mount Airy community. This can only be achieved not by further delays, but by a speedy and pubic trial on July 28. The murderers were caught red-handed, and it is time that justice is served. The defense attorneys have had more than three years to prepare. If they are not ready by now, then they will have to do their best.

Tully Gray Welborn (nephew of Donald Arnder)

Richmond, Virginia