VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WRIC) — A Virginia man accused of dealing heroin, cocaine and marijuana in the Hampton Roads area was found guilty on 8 counts yesterday, crimes for which he could face life in prison.
Jerod Askew, 32, of Virginia Beach went to trial on 7 counts of possession with intent to distribute and conspiracy to distribute, as well as a single firearm charge. The jury’s verdict was unanimous and, though the prosecution spent two days presenting their case, court records show that the defense put on no witnesses and presented no evidence of their own.
Officers with Virginia State Police first became aware of Askew when an informant tipped them off that someone named “rob” — later identified as Jerod Askew — was dealing large amounts of heroin. Police set up a buy, sending the informant to meet with Askew, and coming away with a sample of heroin.
The Chesapeake City Police Department then began to tail Askew, following him to Norfolk International Airport, where he rented a car and left the area. According to the indictment, Askew regularly rented cars at the airport, then drove to Baltimore, where he would meet briefly with his supplier and return to the Hampton Roads area.
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Police observed one such rental on March 23, 2020, though they weren’t able to follow him to Maryland. When he returned to his apartment in Virginia Beach, police saw him carry an object “slightly bigger than a VHS tape” in a grocery bag to his apartment. Police believed that it was a kilo of narcotics.
The next day, they followed Askew to a storage unit, where police would later find a kilo press and empty wrapping used to hold kilos of narcotics. But on March 24, 2020, they pulled Askew over, searching his car with dogs and finding a firearm — but no narcotics.
Virginia Beach Police, however, found a lot more after searching his apartment and recovering 6 guns, many of them stolen, half a kilo of marijuana and a quarter kilo of heroin, as well as assorted smaller amounts of cocaine.
Before Askew faced trial this month, his attorneys attempted to argue that he was unfit to stand trial. In a filing dated November, 2021, his attorney wrote that they believed Askew had trouble understanding the proceedings against him, and sought a competency hearing.
“Counsel has observed a series of concerning and disturbing behaviors, comments, thoughts, and reactions from the defendant,” his lawyers wrote.
They wrote that they were facing “extreme difficulty even organizing or crafting a coherent defense” as a result of Askew’s state of mind.
Askew disclosed to the defense that he had been placed in special education classes as a child and been deeply traumatized by the death of his brother, both factors the defense believed could have diminished Askew’s capacity to understand the accusation and evidence.
But the defense’s argument was ultimately rejected — in part as a result of texts, submitted as an exhibit by prosecutors, between Askew and a relative. In them, Askew laughs over the motion with the other participant, writing, “Lol Yea Bro, motion for Mental Health and Competency Examination 🧐”
Later, he writes, “I REALLY don’t know what’s going on I’ve Been left it in Gods hand. But I do know for sure it’s gone work out in my favor.”
The jury evidently did not agree, returning a guilty verdict on all charges. While Askew could face a maximum of life in federal prison, the court is unlikely to hand down that sentence. The minimum sentence is 15 years.