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Leesburg woman pleads guilty for role after murder

Linsey Baxter Hardwick

A Leesburg woman charged with the murder of a Sterling man has pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of accessory to murder after the fact.

Linsey Baxter Hardwick, 24, pleaded guilty to possession of Oxycodone and accessory to murder after the fact Sept. 25 in the Loudoun County Circuit Court.

Hardwick had previously been charged with first-degree murder and use of a firearm during the commission of a felony for her role in the murder of JoVaughn Johnson, 30, of Sterling. Additionally, she faced charges of possession of Oxycodone and possession of marijuana.

According to testimony at a previous court hearing, on Dec. 27, Hardwick drove then-boyfriend, 33-year-old Ryan Williams, to Sterling. Williams got out of the car, Hardwick heard three to five gunshots and when Williams got back in the car, Hardwick saw him tuck a gun in the waistband of his pants. Hardwick then drove Williams to Delaware and then Colonial Beach, Va. before returning home alone. Johnson was found dead in his car in the Great Trail and Trail Run terraces area just before 7 p.m. He had five gunshot wounds – three to the face, one in the shoulder and once in his hand, all from a 9 mm handgun.

Hardwick and Williams were arrested Feb. 12 for the crime, though Williams was already in custody at the time from prior offenses. Charges against Williams were dropped in May, but he was recharged and indicted in August. Williams is charged with first-degree murder and use of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

As part of her plea agreement, Hardwick will provide evidence in the investigation against Williams and has also agreed to testify against him in court. The proffered facts were kept sealed for Hardwick's protection.

“It is mostly so the newspapers don't print information that could put Hardwick in danger,” Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Alejandra Amato said.

Amato expressed concern that the jail was largely unaware of potential problems as well, noting that Hardwick's first cellmate was Williams' “for lack of a better term, baby-mama.”

Williams has had to be transferred from the Fairfax Adult Detention Center to the Alexandria Adult Detention Center for attempting to communicate with those who may testify against him, prosecutors said.

In exchange for Hardwick's information, the prosecution will not pursue the first-degree murder charge, the possession of marijuana charge or the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony charge.

Judge Burke McCahill accepted Hardwick's guilty plea, but will not sentence her until after Williams' trial, which is currently docketed to begin Jan. 10 in the Loudoun Circuit Court.

A misdemeanor, accessory to murder after the fact is punishable by up to 12 months in jail. Possession of Oxycodone, a schedule I/II drug, is a felony and could earn Hardwick anywhere from one to 10 years incarceration, as well as a mandatory license suspension of six months. Hardwick may be eligible for a deferred disposition, which would keep a felony off her record if she fulfilled requirements such as remaining arrest and drug free, receiving counseling and participating in community service.

Hardwick is scheduled to be sentenced at 1 p.m. Jan. 13 in Loudoun County Circuit Court.

Until then, she will remain incarcerated at the Loudoun County Adult Detention Center.


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