A judge reluctantly set bail for a Richmond city councilman's nephew who is charged in a shooting last month on the Virginia Union University campus in which a student was wounded.

At the end of a nearly hourlong bail hearing yesterday, Richmond General District Judge David E. Cheek Sr. made it clear he was not comfortable releasing Jimar Lee Jewell.

In setting bail at $15,000, Cheek said he would delay imposition of his ruling until Monday. That allows Chief Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Tracy Thorne-Begland time to appeal Cheek's ruling in Richmond Circuit Court.

Jewell has been held without bail on charges of malicious wounding and use of a firearm in a felony since his arrest shortly after the Aug. 30 early-morning shooting, which left a Virginia Union student with serious leg injuries.

Thorne-Begland noted that Jewell, 21, has a criminal history that includes convictions for marijuana and failure to appear in court.

"The facts really scare me," Cheek said before lecturing Jewell at the end of a hearing, in which his mother said she is worried that her son has a drug problem. Cheek said that in cases such as Jewell's, jail may be the safest place for him because it keeps him off the streets and away from his associates.

"You need to understand," Cheek said, "that if you ever took anything serious, you need to take this serious."

Richmond City Councilman E. Martin Jewell was among several witnesses who testified on Jimar Jewell's behalf, repeatedly interrupting the judge in their attempts to support the defendant. There was another interruption midway through the hearing when Jimar Jewell's 3-year-old son was carried into the courtroom -- where his father stood in front of the judge, wearing a striped jail jumpsuit and surrounded by deputies -- and began crying loudly.

Thorne-Begland said the shooting occurred as a result of an earlier argument at a convenience store near campus that pitted some Virginia Union students against some of Jewell's associates -- but not Jewell.

Jewell's associates went to the 800 block of West Lancaster Road, where Jewell was staying, and enlisted him to join them as they went to campus to again confront the students, Thorne-Begland said.

He said a university police officer saw Jewell, who is not a Virginia Union student, pull out a handgun in front of several dozen students and repeatedly shoot at a student in front of a dormitory. The student was hospitalized with bullet wounds to his left thigh and left ankle.

Police chased Jewell and arrested him a short distance from the shooting, where they also found a gun, Thorne-Begland said.

Jewell gave a statement to police in which he said he fired in self-defense because the student pulled up his shirt, signaling he might have a weapon, Thorne-Begland said. The Virginia Union police officer will testify that he saw the shooting victim make no such move, Thorne-Begland said.

The city commonwealth's attorney's office is likely to seek a special prosecutor for the case because Martin Jewell and the rest of Richmond City Council's members routinely vote on funding matters involving the office, Thorne-Begland said.


Contact Joe Macenka at (804) 649-6804 or jmacenka@timesdispatch.com.

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