Harvey L. Bryant, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Virginia Beach, announced today that Lester Ray Belmar Jr., 29 years old, formerly of Portsmouth, Virginia, was found guilty of Second Degree Murder, Malicious Wounding, and two (2) counts of Use of a Firearm by Circuit Court Judge A. Bonwill Shockley after a two-day trial. A presentence report was ordered, and Judge Shockley will sentence Belmar on January 7, 2013. He is facing a mandatory minimum of eight (8) years and a maximum of 68 years in prison.
The Commonwealth’s evidence proved that on the evening of May 20, 2011, Lester Ray Belmar Jr. was working as a security guard at a night club called Hangar 9 in the City of Virginia Beach. Belmar owned the security company and had approximately 10 other employees working with him at Hangar 9 that night. He wore a belt with handcuffs and multiple types of non-lethal weapons including pepper spray. As the club closed down, many patrons went over to a 7-Eleven store several hundred yards away. Many of the security guards left Hangar 9’s property and followed the crowd to 7-Eleven. Belmar’s company was not contracted nor given permission by 7-Eleven to serve as security on 7-Eleven premises. Fights broke out in the 7-Eleven parking lot, and pepper spray was used to break up part of the crowd on more than one occasion.
Darryl Spencer, the victim, and two of his friends got into a verbal argument inside Hangar 9 that continued in the 7-Eleven parking lot. A car leaving the parking lot fired gunshots in the direction of 7-Eleven where Spencer and his friends were getting into their car. Most of the security staff ducked for cover. Forensic evidence proved that Spencer fired a shotgun once, striking a car and its driver who was leaving the parking lot, and had not been involved in any altercation with Spencer. As Spencer ducked back into the car, Belmar fired two shots at Spencer. One struck Spencer in the back of the head, killing him instantly, and continued into the back of the driver. The driver survived but has a bullet permanently lodged in his spine.
During an interview with investigators, Belmar stated that he didn’t know for certain whether Spencer had a shotgun or not. Belmar admitted he did not see Spencer shoot the shotgun, and that he did not have any encounters with Spencer that evening. At trial, Belmar testified that even if Spencer had a gun, Belmar could not predict what Spencer was going to do with it.
Belmar’s defense was that he was justified in shooting Spencer to protect others in the parking lot. The Commonwealth argued that Belmar, who admitted he intended to kill Spencer, was not legally justified in killing Spencer because the evidence showed Spencer was getting back into the car at the time he was shot. When announcing her verdict, Judge Shockley said, “The victim’s actions hadn’t gone far enough. Why didn’t the defendant wait?”
“Human life is very precious,” Bryant said. “Our laws severely restrict the circumstances in which it can be taken without punitive consequences. No such circumstances existed in this case.”
The case was prosecuted by Commonwealth’s Attorney Harvey L. Bryant and Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Scott C. Vachris. Please contact Macie Pridgen if additional information is desired.