DINWIDDIE – There was a commonwealth’s attorney election in the county Tuesday, and the person picked for the job now faces the task of prosecuting one of the most high-profile murder cases in recent Dinwiddie history – one that likely will have the eyes and ears of civil-rights advocates on it nationwide.
Amanda Nicole Mann defeated Jonathan Bourlier with 52.3% of the vote. Roughly six months after she is sworn in on Jan. 1, the first of eight scheduled trials in the death of Irvo Noel Otieno will take place in Dinwiddie Circuit Court.
And while that may have lurked in the backs of everyone’s minds on Election Day, it never materialized as a major campaign issue. Mann did not mention the case in thanking her supporters on social media.
“Thank you to the people of Dinwiddie for allowing your voices to be heard and putting your faith in me as Dinwiddie’s next commonwealth’s attorney,” Mann posted Wednesday afternoon on her campaign’s Facebook page. “When I started this journey, I knew it would be a long but worthwhile road. I set out wanting to show the community how much I believed in it but what I didn’t know was how much the community would show up for me.”
Mann will be the permanent replacement for Ann Cabell Baskervill, the longtime prosecutor who opted not to seek re-election and then resigned over the summer to study in Europe. She won against the man that Dinwiddie judges had named as Baskervill’s interim successor but already was on the ballot, hence becoming the de facto incumbent.
That move drew the ire of Mann and others already critical of Bourlier’s overall lack of criminal-law experience.
Countywide, Mann carded 5,167 votes to Bourlier’s 4,686. She carried seven of Dinwiddie’s 13 precincts.
In a concession message on his social media, Bourlier thanked his supporters and called on the county to rally behind his opponent.
“As I said prior to the election, our county is too great to be divided by politics,” he posted. Of Mann, Bourlier said she “is inheriting a fantastic team in the CA’s office, and I wish the best for her and that position."
Like Mann, Bourlier did not mention the Otieno case in his concession.
Seven Henrico County deputies and one former Central State Hospital security officer face second-degree murder charges in the March 6 suffocation death of Otieno, a 28-year-old Henrico County man who battled mental illness for much of his adult life, his family said. Otieno was pinned to the floor of a CSH intake unit by the deputies and CSH security for more than 11 minutes after the deputies claimed he struggled with them while in custody.
Surveillance video from the intake unit showed the suspects piling atop Otieno to hold him down. They got off him after someone in the video pointed out he was not moving.
Ten people originally were charged in the death, but Baskervill dropped charges against two CSH security guards. They were arrested when Baskervill sought direct warrants after witnessing the 90-minute video, copies of which were obtained by various news outlets including The Progress-Index.
Otieno’s family called for aggressive prosecution of the suspects and a federal investigation into the possibility of violation of Otieno’s civil rights. The family also sued Henrico County, the Henrico sheriff’s office and the Virginia Department of Behavioral Development and Mental Health Services, but the case was recently settled out of court for a reported $8.5 million.
The case drew national attention for its similarities to the 2020 death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained across his neck by a Minneapolis police officer. National civil-rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton delivered the eulogy at Otieno’s March 29 funeral service in Chesterfield. The family is represented by noted civil-rights attorneys Ben Crump of Jacksonville, Florida, and Mark Krudys of Richmond.
Krudys issued a statement to The Progress-Index on behalf of the family about Mann’s election.
“Irvo Otieno’s family expects that the newly elected Dinwiddie commonwealth’s attorney will diligently and aggressively prosecute the eight persons indicted for his murder,” Krudys said in the statement. He added that the family has asked to meet with Mann to go over the case “as soon as she is available to do so.”
Bill Atkinson (he/him/his) is an award-winning journalist who covers breaking news, government and politics. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on X (formerly known as Twitter) at @BAtkinson_PI.
This article originally appeared on The Progress-Index: Dinwiddie County voters elect new commonwealth's attorney