City Paper is not for tourists
Falls Church blogger Blueweeds reports that Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Morrogh will not overturn his office’s decision to not prosecute Brandon Paul Gotwalt for the 2005 killing of Steve Cornejo.
Cornejo was unarmed when he was beaten and shot in the back by Gotwalt, who was never arrested. In a civil trial, a Fairfax County jury found Gotwalt liable for the wrongful death of Cornejo, and ordered Gotwalt to pay Cornejo’s family $1.96 million plus $15,588 for funeral expenses.
Gotwalt declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy and didn’t pay the dead man’s family a dime.
Blueweeds reports that in a letter to Mayor Robin Gardner of Falls Church, Morrogh said the eyewitness and other testimony of Gotwalt’s actions during and after the killing of Cornejo — who grew up in Falls Church — didn’t change his original opinion that no prosecution was warranted. Morrogh’s office had initially told the public that Gotwalt was acting as a “good Samaritan” and shot Cornejo while preventing Cornejo from assaulting a woman.
At the civil trial, evidence showed there was no woman on the scene when Cornejo was shot, and Gotwalt admitted being the aggressor in the altercation that ended with an unarmed man being shot in the back. Two witnesses testified that they heard Cornejo plead for his life just before being shot in the back.
The jury was told Gotwalt flushed his bloody clothes and the spent shells down the toilet and initially lied to police about being on the scene.
I’ve followed the case from the start, and it has long seemed plain to me, as plain as it apparently did to that civil jury, that Fairfax County coddled a killer.