A Beaverdam man faces the possibility of life in prison when he returns to court in March after a Hanover jury declared him guilty of first-degree murder in the stabbing death of his girlfriend.
The verdict followed a three-day trial last week where enough evidence was presented to convict Brian Mallory of killing Sarajane Hakopian in the bedroom of the home they shared on Beaverdam Road.
The verdict also comes close to bringing to a close a case spanning nearly two years and characterized by a number of procedural roadblocks and delays. The outset of the trial almost followed suit, with Mallory requesting new counsel and a change of venue, among a number of other motions from the defense denied by Circuit Court Judge J. Overton Harris. Mallory had previously undergone neurological testing and was determined competent to stand trial.
Jan. 30,2012 Hakopian was found stabbed to death in her home in the 17600 block of Beaverdam Road. Her autopsy showed she sustained a total of nine stab wounds, which a forensic investigator said caused her to bleed out while laying in bed.
The day after the stabbing, Mallory, who had been living with Hakopian, was spotted driving Hakopian’s green 2005 Kia Sedona in Florida where he was apprehended and later handed over to Hanover authorities.
Shortly before his apprehension, Mallory had told Hakopian’s daughter via text message that he was in the Richmond area. However, a witness and custodian of records for Verizon testified that a call made near the time of the text originated from a tower near Macon, Ga., putting Mallory well away from Virginia.
During the trial, Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Shari Skipper had the witness read a number of explicit and violent text messages sent from Mallory’s phone the day before the murder regarding Hakopian. Entries from Hakopian’s journal, also submitted as evidence, revealed that Mallory had become possessive over her and did not want her to have contact with another man.
When he was arrested in Jacksonville, Fla., Mallory had a one-way ticket to Miami. Found in Hakopian’s van were a number of her belongings, including a purse, wallet and cell phone, as well as a knife discovered under the driver’s seat, a Hanover investigator testified.
Other evidence submitted at trial included Mallory’s shoe. An analyst with the state department of forensic science testified the Nike had DNA matching Hakopian’s. Another witness linked Mallory’s shoe to a print found at the scene of the murder.
At each turn, Mallory’s attorney, David DuBose, tried to undermine the DNA evidence, claiming that because the witnesses were also employed by the state, their findings were biased.
Mallory returns to court March 17 for sentencing. In addition to the murder charge, Mallory – an already convicted felon – also faces three probation violation charges and one charge of petit larceny.