The Ashburn man initially charged with stabbed three people during a brawl in The Grove at Flynn’s Crossing neighborhood was sentenced Thursday to serve two years behind bars.
Erick A. Joya-Morales has been held without bond since his arrest following the assault and, thus, will be required to serve just a few months more, followed by three years of supervised probation.
On May 8, 2020, the parents of one of his friends were being confronted in their Blossom Hill Terrace apartment by two individuals who claimed their son owed them money. Joya-Morales came to the home with the son and an altercation ensued inside the home and then outside in a courtyard. At one point, Joya-Morales was pinned to the ground by one of the individuals seeking money and both had knives. As the father worked to break up that fight, Joya-Morales slashed him, causing a serious injury, according to accounts presented during previous court hearings.
Joya-Morales fled the scene, but was arrested later that night and charged with three counts of aggravated malicious wounding. The charges carry a sentence of 20 years to life in prison.
In August 2020, a District Court judge agreed to a proposal in which prosecutors would drop two of the charges and reduce the third to a felony count of unlawful wounding. Defense attorney Tony Paracha said Joya-Morales acted in self-defense in two of the three stabbings. In the third, prosecutors viewed Joya-Morales as the aggressor, while Paracha characterized the injuries sustained by the father as accidental. Unlawful wounding, a Class 6 felony, carries a punishment of one to five years in prison.
When the case reached Circuit Court, Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj told Judge Jeanette Irby that her office would like to see Joya-Morales, then 18 years old, committed to supervision under the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court until his 21st birthday. She said that would allow Joya-Morales to receive “consequences and services,” rather than just jail time.
Irby rejected the plea agreement.
He was set to face trial on the aggravated malicious wounding charges in December. However, in November, the attorneys proposed the plea agreement again, gaining approval from Judge Thomas D. Horne.
During the Jan. 27 sentencing hearing, Horne imposed a five-year prison sentence, with three years suspended. He rejected Paracha’s arguments for a lesser sentence that would allow for Joya-Morales’ release based on the time he had already served. Horne noted the defendant had a prior criminal history of serious offenses and imposed a penalty above the mid-point of the state’s sentencing guidelines.
Joya-Morales also will be required to pay restitution to the man who was severely injured in the altercation. Attorneys said the cost of medical bills previously had been estimated at around $10,000, but recently the victim submitted bills totaling around $120,000. Horne set an April 16 hearing to finalize the restitution amount and repayment requirements.