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Capital murder case is in a league of its own …

Street Talk

Murder Trial in League of Its Own
VMFA Adds to Art Nouveau Show
Upscale Convenience, Grocery Stores Coming
VCU: We Can Respond To Rapes, Not Rumors
Local Doc Keeps WWF in Shape
Murder Trial in League of Its Own

When the jury trial in the capital murder case against Michelle Garcia begins June 19, some may wonder where the boys are.

In this trial women assume the floor, the bench and, overwhelmingly, the witness stand.

Rarer still: It's a woman standing trial for capital murder. Neither the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office nor the Richmond Circuit Court's clerk's office could recall the last time — if ever — a woman has been the defendant in a capital case.

Charged in February 1999 with the murders of two men, Garcia could face the death penalty if convicted.

Judge Margaret Spencer presides over the case that could be the first of its kind in Virginia history.

"I've never seen it before," concedes Commonwealth's Attorney David Hicks. "It may be the very first time it's happened," says Hicks about the coincidence that all the key players in a capital case are women.

Attorneys Susan Hanson and Toni Randall are the public defenders in the case against Garcia brought by Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Claire Cardwell and prosecutor Jacqueline Reiner.

"It's a very significant case," says Reiner, who agrees the all-female component — especially with a female defendant — makes the case highly unusual.

"It does seem like a lot of history is being made," says a clerk in the criminal division of the Richmond Circuit Court, who asked not to be identified. "We're a court of record, but we don't keep statistics like that."

Nor does the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office. But if memory is correct, this summer's trial could be a first.

"It's very interesting," says Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Cardwell. "In the 16 years I've been [trying cases] in Richmond I don't recall it ever having happened."
— Brandon Walters

VMFA Adds to Art Nouveau Show

VMFA Adds to Art Nouveau Show

Not only has Art Nouveau been misunderstood, it's gotten a bad rap in the process.

People call it kitsch, for goodness sake.

And it's all to the dismay of curators at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, who say Art Nouveau is nothing short of the first example of Modernism.

The museum has spent five years putting together "Art Nouveau 1890-1914," the largest exhibit of its kind, showing just how dramatic this turn-of-the-century movement was.

The 400-piece exhibit includes paintings, sculptures, ceramics, glass, textiles, furniture, jewelry, graphics and architecture, and currently is on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum through July 30.

But if your travel plans don't include England anytime soon, you can still catch the show on this side of the Atlantic, even close to home.

What's more, you might see something familiar — that is if you've checked out the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts' notable collection of Art Nouveau.

After closing in London, the exhibit will travel to the National Gallery of Art in Washington where it will open this fall.

Given the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts' acclaimed collection of Art Nouveau, it's not surprising that curators from the Victoria and Albert asked if some of its more distinguished pieces could be lent to "Art Nouveau" for its exhibition run in Washington.

"We are lending to the National Gallery," says Don Dale, with VMFA's marketing and public affairs office. "It's not unusual for museums to do this. We will sometimes augment collections. It's the curator's choice."

Dale says five Art Nouveau items have been selected to make the trip to the National Gallery: "Cobweb," a Tiffany lamp; "Read the Sun," a lithograph by Louis John Rhead; "The Modern Poster," a lithograph by Will H. Bradley; "Collar," by Rene Lalique; and "Bust of a Female" by Alphonse Mucha.

Curators hope to show that turn-of-the-century art is not trendy, but a complex idea inspired by the idea of total art. In other words, it's more than meets the eye.
— B.W.

Upscale Convenience, Grocery Stores Coming

And you thought the upscaling of Richmond's retail scene meant just a new mall in Short Pump.

Think again. And pass the polenta. We're getting some fairly fancy new places to buy food, too.

Mike Brennan, manager of the pricey and popular Charlottesville grocery Foods of All Nations, says a Richmond outlet is in the making. "People like shopping the size of the store," he says. "What we're betting on is that there are enough people in Richmond" to support another one, here.

No site has been selected, however, and Brennan says the project is still in the planning stage - so don't call bothering him about where and when it will open. Until it does, Richmonders can tide themselves over with the offerings at the new Wawa (yes, Wawa) convenience stores coming.

Laurie Bruce, spokesman for the 500-store, Wawa, Pa.-based chain, says construction of the first of three local stores began last week on Iron Bridge Road in Chesterfield County. Bruce says Wawa works the upper end of the convenience store market, offering a full deli, fresh produce and made-to-order subs the chain's fiercely loyal Yankee customers call hoagies.

Need some extra cash to pay for all these new nibbles? No problem. Bruce says Wawa also provides surcharge-free ATMs.
— Rob Morano

VCU: We Can Respond To Rapes, Not Rumors

The sidewalk behind the VCU library still bears the fading paint of outrage. Or does it?

"A woman was raped here," the red spray paint reads. But according to VCU police, university spokesmen and sexual assault services coordinator Gay Cutchin, nothing has been reported since the graffiti appeared two months ago.

"It's just difficult," Cutchin says. "I think there's a misperception … that the administration is trying to cover things up." It's an especially frustrating misperception for Cutchin, who has devoted her professional and much of her personal life to assisting the victims of sexual assault.

This week she's helping VCU host "Sexual Assault Service Providers' Day." The event, planned well before the spray paint appeared, Cutchin says, will be held May 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the VCU Student Commons.

Cutchin says the event, also sponsored by the Central Virginia Sexual Assault Task Force, will provide women - and men - the information they need on what to do to prevent and deal with such attacks.

The key in battling sexual assault is victims reporting such crimes, Cutchin says: "We can't respond to something that's not reported." It's been especially frustrating to Cutchin over the years because, she says, when rumors about campus rape circulate but no one comes forward, "it makes students think we're trying to cover things up."

VCU spokesman Lissette Linaref says it's been years since a rape was reported at VCU. While school statistics include only those assaults which occur on VCU property, students and other sources say they have not heard of any recent rapes at the school. Cutchin says she "did some investigating" herself and turned up nothing.

That's not to say assaults don't occur. "I've actually seen more students [than usual] this week that were assaulted earlier in the year," Cutchin says, adding she thinks they have decided to take advantage of counseling and other services available at VCU before departing home for summer.

As for the library sidewalk spray paint, Linaref says VCU officials believe it is just graffiti, similar to spray-painted body outlines and other "statements" on and around campus in recent months.
— R.M.

Local Doc Keeps WWF in Shape

"He's a huge help to us," says World Wrestling Federation promoter Bob Clarke. "And a very passionate person about his profession."

He is Bob Quarles, an unassuming osteopathic physician in the West End: "I do all that an M.D. does … plus spinal manipulation" and other bone-related stuff. And he's the WWF's coordinator of medical coverage at its traveling circus of events and TV tapings from L.A. to Richmond.

Quarles makes sure the right doctors are on hand at events nationally, and he attends events himself whenever he can. He was backstage at the WWF's "Smackdown" event here a few weeks ago, for example, making sure the burly brutes of professional wrestling kept their bones intact and in place.

"I've been a big fan since I was a little kid," he says. At medical school in Kansas City, Quarles volunteered his services at pro wrestling matches and even pumped iron with the wrestlers - "all of them" - at the Kansas City Gold's Gym when they were in town.

His connections with wrestling might have ended there had it not been for a phone call several years ago. Quarles had joined the West End practice where his partner is team physician for the Richmond Renegades hockey team, when the Richmond Coliseum called looking for an osteopathic physician for an upcoming WWF event. When the WWF heard Quarles was still interested, it was a no-brainer, Clarke says.

This year he was tapped to arrange physician coverage all over the country for WWF events. "I hardly get to see the matches because we're so busy in the training room," he says. "The guys really do get hurt."

And they appreciate his help. Last week the "Big Boss Man" and "Bull Buchanan" thanked him by speaking at his daughter's Goochland elementary school and delivering a stay-in-school, no-drugs message.
— R.M.