Case involving snake skin could be dismissed

Published 8:36 am Friday, May 20, 2011

COURTLAND—A charge against a Courtland-area man accused of possessing the skin of an endangered rattlesnake could be dismissed.

Thomas Marks entered an Alford plea — a stipulation that if evidence were presented in court he would be found guilty — in Southampton County Circuit Court during an appeal of an earlier conviction from General District Court.

As a result of the agreement, Marks could have the charge dismissed after the court takes the case under advisement for 12 months. The only conditions are that Marks must pay court costs of $161 and remain on good behavior.

Marks’ attorney, Randolph Raines, said the original conviction on a misdemeanor was too harsh for a man who killed a snake in his yard.

Raines said in court Marks ran over the canebrake rattlesnake while driving a piece of farm equipment more than a year ago and kept the skin.

“He had the skin,” Raines said. “He had it for some time.”

Charges against Marks were filed July 2 when conservation officers with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries discovered the snakeskin while executing a search warrant from another investigation. No charges were filed in the other investigation.