Travis Joe McLean’s most recent appeal resulted in little material change from his first sentence for attempted capital murder. Friday, McLean was resentenced to two life prison terms, plus an additional 15 years.
McLean, 22, was convicted in 1998 of shooting Robert Umholtz and his stepson, Robert Webb, while they were patrolling Umholtz’s Lake Ridge neighborhood for the Neighborhood Watch program.
McLean’s attorney, Robert Jenkins, argued that even if his client received the minimum sentences on each of his charges, he would still face 54 years in prison, and would be older than 70 when released.
“Mr. McLean would not be a threat, nor would there be a concern he would be involved in this type of activity,” Jenkins argued.
McLean appealed his conviction to the Virginia Court of Appeals, but the appeal was rejected. He has maintained his innocence, and reiterated it during Friday’s hearing. But the Court of Appeals granted McLean a resentencing, ruling he was entitled to a new hearing before a jury informed that a life sentence meant no possibility of parole. The law pertaining to jury instructions in sentencings changed after McLean’s first sentencing. At that time, judges and attorneys were not allowed to mention parole in sentencing hearings.
So on June 16, a new jury heard McLean’s evidence. They also recommended two life sentences, plus the additional years. Friday, Circuit Court Judge LeRoy F. Millette sentenced McLean in accordance with their recommendation.
“I draw a very stark line when people are hurt badly,” Millette said, before meting out McLean’s sentence.
The only change Millette made from the original sentence was suspension of the 10-year sentence on one of McLean’s attempted robbery charges. Millette said this would allow him to impose a five-year probation on McLean, should laws change and he be paroled at some future time.
“In my younger years, I had problems, and I took responsibility [for them],” McLean said Friday. “The prosecutor said I didn’t take responsibility — I didn’t do these crimes. I feel sorry for the victims, and I’ll continue to pray for them and their families as I do for mine.”
On a December evening in 1997, McLean held up Umholtz and Webb, then 45 and 29, with a pistol and demanded their wallets. Umholtz and Webb refused and started to walk away. McLean fired four times. Umholtz was hit in the leg. Webb was hit in the chest, back of the neck, and hip. He was flown to Fairfax Hospital where he was placed on life support.
Webb and Umholtz survived to testify against McLean at his June 1998 trial, where the original jury recommended two life sentences for McLean. Umholtz was also present Friday, though he did not testify. Instead, he sat stiffly in a bench directly behind McLean, his gaze fixed on McLean.