Travion Blount Is Getting Out Of Prison
Good Lord. Here we go again.
One of Norfolk’s most notorious punks is back in the news. This time he’s griping that he may have to stay in prison until April of 2021 instead of getting sprung this September. All thanks to the largesse of former Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
His name is Travion Blount. If you were in Tidewater in 2013 when The Virginian-Pilot published a front-page series on his plight you know his name.
Back in 2007 this teenaged gangbanger was sentenced to six life sentences plus 118 years for his part in a 2006 armed robbery of a Norfolk house party where guests were held at gunpoint and robbed of electronics, drugs and money.
It was a mind-boggling sentence. The kid was 15 years old and destined to die in prison. For an armed robbery.
The sentence cried out for correction.
Exactly how did a juvenile - even a bad one - wind up with such wildly disporportional punishment?
I’ll tell you: By displaying the same arrogance and stupidity that had gotten him in trouble in the first place.
Blount’s two accomplices in the armed robbery were 18 years old. They had common sense and accepted plea deals that would get them out of prison in 10 and 13 years.
But Blount, who joined the Crips at 11, refused to listen to his lawyer, his mother or the judge in the case. He turned down a plea agreement that would have gotten him 14 years in prison. He foolishly opted for a trial by jury.
Several times during the trial, while the jury was out of the room, the judge reminded the brazen kid that he was taking a terrible risk.
Blount didn’t listen.
So the jury found him guilty on 49 of 51 criminal charges. The gun charges alone netted him 118 years. The judge gave him six life sentences for assorted crimes from abduction to robbery.
Six years later, The Virginian-Pilot brought attention to the case with a story headlined, “Life Times Six.”
And just like that, Blount went from young thug to local celebrity. Kids were wearing T-shirts with his face on them. There were rallies. There were petitions. And every news account pointed out that although Blount did commit armed robbery, no shots were fired and “no one was hurt.”
Have you ever talked to crime victims who were held at gunpoint by a freak with a gun? Try telling them no one was hurt. These three creeps were one jittery trigger finger away from committing capital murder.
Fact is, Travion Bount is a felon. Not a folk hero.
Before he left office in January 2014, Gov. Bob McDonnell gave Blount a partial pardon, reducing his sentence to 40 years.
McDonnell had been predisposed to grant Blount clemency but balked when he learned that the inmate had "pleaded guilty to other robberies and later violated prison rules."
That’s the stuff that doesn’t make it into most news stories. It complicates the misunderstood juvenile angle.
Four years later, on his last day in office, McAuliffe gave Blount a poorly worded conditional pardon that’s left legal experts to debate its meaning. Did the order apply only to the armed robbery? Or did it include the other convictions for jailhouse assaults and gang membership?
Blount and his lawyers believe McAuliffe gave the prisoner a sweeping get-out-of-prison pardon that will release him in September. If that happens, Blount will be out after about 13 years.
A year less than the plea deal he refused.
The Department of Corrections, on the other hand, plans to keep Blount in the Greensville Correctional Center until April of 2021, bringing his time served to about 15 years, which sounds about right.
Now it’s up to the attorney general to decide.
As I wrote in 2015 about the Blount case: A miscarriage of justice is a terrible thing. It can let the guilty go free, or imprison the innocent. It can result in punishment that's lenient, or barbaric.
It can also turn a punk into a martyr.