The abduction case against Ronald Roldan, charged in the 2011 disappearance of girlfriend Bethany Decker, has been transferred to a Loudoun County, Virginia, domestic court.
During a brief hearing, Thursday, District Court Judge Robert Coleman granted a prosecution motion to begin Roldan’s case in Loudoun County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.
While transferring the case could slightly slow the prosecution, it would provide protection against an appeal if Roldan is ultimately convicted of abduction, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
Assistant commonwealth’s attorneys Snapper Tams and Russet Perry had each told the judge that under Virginia law, the proper jurisdiction to begin Roldan’s case is in this court.
“The defendant and victim did cohabitate within 12 months of the offense,” wrote Coleman, in granting the motion to transfer the case.
Decker, 21, was five months pregnant when she disappeared Jan. 29, 2011. She was last seen by Roldan in their apartment on Orchard Grass Terrace in Ashburn, according to charging documents.
Her remains have never been found, although investigators have never said that they have recovered any forensic evidence of murder.
While Roldan’s preliminary hearing will now be held in domestic relations court, if a judge finds probable cause or if the case is indicted by a Loudoun County grand jury, Roldan’s trial would be held in circuit court.
Roldan participated in the hearing via a video hookup from the county jail.
The date of his first appearance in domestic relations court has not been set.
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