A Fauquier court sentenced a Warrenton man to life in prison on Tuesday for multiple sex crimes against minors, including a 9 year old, and failing to appear in court after skipping out on bond and being hunted by U.S. Marshals.
Justin Richard Britton, 43, of Warrenton was convicted in June 2015
of four counts of sex crimes against children including object sexual penetration of a child under 13 years old, a charge which carries a mandatory minimum of life in prison.
Judge Jeffrey W. Parker of the Fauquier County Circuit Court upheld the mandatory minimum as well as sentencing Britton to 16 more years for the other convictions and the failure to appear.
Ghislane Burks, Britton's attorney, had filed a motion against the mandatory minimum, claiming the sentence is a violation of his eighth amendment rights which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment for crimes. The motion was denied by the court. She was appointed by Judge Parker to file the appeal as well.
As for the failure to appear conviction, Burks said Britton pleaded guilty and knows he made a mistake when he ran.
“I can't imagine anyone faced with a mandatory life sentence who wouldn't be scared to death,” Burks said.
Prosecutor Abigail Owens said the community has already spoken regarding the severity of the punishment – first through the legislature in creating the law and then through the jury, unanimously convicting and recommending the sentence.
“These crimes literally tore a family apart,” Owens said to the court.
Britton was originally charged and arrested in late 2013 and set free on bond. But in July of 2014 Britton failed to appear to his court hearing and was considered a fugitive
Britton was eventually apprehended by U.S. Marshals
at the Trail Motel in Ruckersville, Va., by Greene County deputies.
During the trial, emotional testimony was heard from both of the minors as they took the stand to accuse Britton. Later in the trial, in a video shown as evidence, Britton admitted to doing whatever the girls said he did. This was after being arrested and read his rights, including the right to remain silent.