Loudoun Co. top prosecutor, sheriff call for better inter-office communication following man’s improper release

Loudoun County, Virginia, Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj defended her office’s handling of a case earlier this month, in which a man charged in a murder was mistakenly released by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office.

While Biberaj said that Stone Colburn, 25, should not have been released, she praised the sheriff’s office for promptly returning Colburn to custody a day later.

“Once the error was discovered the sheriff’s office was immediately responsive and diligent toward rearresting Colburn … their response was swift and appropriate. The release of Mr. Colburn is an unfortunate accident and it is newsworthy for this very fact — it doesn’t happen routinely, nor should it,” Biberaj said.

Biberaj said all the paperwork was in place, including a criminal information, to ensure that there would be no gap in the custody of Colburn, as charges against him shifted from District to Circuit Court and he was being moved from a facility in Petersburg, Virginia, where he underwent six months of mental health evaluation.

But Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman said the use of a criminal information, which is similar to a criminal indictment, was an unusual process that lent confusion to the case, particularly when charges against the detainee were dropped by the District Court.

“There could have been better communications … we’ve got to work together … we’re all in the same boat, and we have got to keep our community safe,” Chapman said.

Biberaj also expressed the need for improved communications.

“This is why I invite the sheriff. Let’s sit down and have a conversation because let me make this very clear, I do not think at any level this was an intentional release of Colburn … I believe it was inadvertent, but what it does, it exposes that there are some processes that we need to revisit and the best way we do that is we revisit them together,” Biberaj said.

The incident drew the attention of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors this week, and Biberaj rejected any notion that she’s at battle with the county sheriff.

“I am not. I can’t do my job without him. Neither one of us can afford to have any sort of battle,” Biberaj said.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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