Murder Charges Dropped Against Brothers Accused of Setting Body on Fire
Richard Dale Sword and Gerry Lee Sword now face charge of improperly disposing of a corpse.
Charges against two brothers previously accused of murdering a Manassas man and setting his body on fire were amended on Wednesday to a much lighter offense.
Richard Dale Sword, of Springfield, and Gerry Lee Sword, who is homeless, are now charged with improperly disposing of a corpse. In Prince William County General District Court on Wednesday, prosecutors amended the charge from first degree murder and a judge granted each of the two release on $5,000 bond.
Family members of the victim, Antonio Bailey, were told the prosecution didn't have enough evidence to pursue the murder charge. An investigation revealed Bailey died of an overdose. Many expressed anger and shock over the move.
Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Ebert did not immediately reply to a message left on his voicemail seeking further clarification, and a defense attorney did not comment after the court appearance.
Bailey's body was found in a vacant parking lot on Church Street in the City of Manassas in October. Authorities claim surveillance footage showed the two men putting Bailey into a van owned by Richard Sword. The footage reportedly shows Richard Sword driving Bailey's body across the street and setting the corpse on fire.
The Sword brothers waived their rights to preliminary hearings for those offenses on Wednesday morning, acknowledging that there was enough evidence to send the case to a grand jury in Prince William County Circuit Court.
If convicted, they could face up to five years in prison.