Suspect in slaying of girl released

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 31, 2005

First-degree murder charges were dropped Tuesday against the two Suffolk men charged with gunning down 14-year-old Diane Holland earlier this summer.

As Juvenile and Domestic Relations Judge William Moore withdrew the charges against Willie L. Waters Jr., 20, and Vanshawn Rodgers, 21, a burst of cheering erupted in the courtroom.

Rodgers, of the 600 block of Second Avenue, and Waters, of the 200 block of Smith Street, were each charged with one count of murder and one count of using a firearm in the commission of a felony. They have been in Western Tidewater Regional Jail since their July 14 arrest.

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Moore also ordered the men be released from jail, unless they were also incarcerated for other crimes.

Rodgers, who was convicted on an unrelated firearms charge two weeks ago, is still in jail. Waters was released late Tuesday afternoon.

The court’s action stemmed from some changes in the initial evidence that led to the pair’s arrest, said Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Will Jamerson.

&uot;We have got to have the evidence that we need to convict beyond a shadow of a doubt in Circuit Court,&uot; he said. &uot;We don’t have that at this time.&uot;

Jamerson refused to elaborate on the specific changes to the evidence.

But Holland’s murder is still under investigation, he said.

Indictments could still be brought back against Rodgers, Waters or anyone else found to be involved in the teenager’s slaying, he said.

Holland, who lived in the 300 block of Baker Street, was standing outside her home talking with friends on July 2 when she was hit by two bullets fired from a passing car. She died a short time later in Obici Hospital.