Lake Monticello Road shooting ends in combined 56 years in prison

Lake Monticello Road shooting ends in combined 56 years in prison

By Heather Michon, Correspondent

Dante Givens was sentenced to four years in prison on Friday (May 25) for his role in the 2016 robbery and shooting on Lake Monticello Road – the final sentence handed down in a crime that left a Fluvanna County man permanently injured.

Givens sat at the bottom of what Commonwealth’s Attorney Jeff Haislip termed a “hierarchy of culpability.”

Haislip told the court that Givens originated the sequence of events by telling his friend Thomas A. Jackson about guns stored in a gun safe in an apartment above a private garage on an isolated property off Lake Monticello Road.

Jackson then told John Morton Abbitt, a childhood friend then living in Virginia Beach. Abbitt told his friend, Gary Blowe, and the two men drove to Charlottesville on Nov. 18, 2016, to meet with Jackson and Givens and steal the guns.

None of the three co-defendants knew that Blowe, who had an extensive criminal history, was armed with a .45 caliber handgun.

The four men drove up Route 53 in two separate cars, but midway to Fluvanna, Givens decided he didn’t want to participate in the robbery. They stopped at Me2 Market & Eatery, where Jackson joined Abbitt and Blowe in their car and proceeded to the Lake Monticello Road property.

There they found the gun safe empty. Before they could leave, property owner Garnette Bourne arrived at the garage. Blowe immediately opened fire on Bourne, striking him in the leg.

Bourne’s brother, Scott, and former Fluvanna County Sheriff Jackie Gillespie arrived moments later, and all three men exchanged fire with Blowe as Abbitt and Jackson escaped into the woods.

Jackson called Givens, who was then at the BP station on Lake Monticello Road, telling him to come pick him up.

Givens told investigators that he was just gassing up before returning home to Charlottesville, but Haislip told the court that it was more likely Givens deliberately stayed in the vicinity.

The two were stopped by Fluvanna County deputies within moments and placed under arrest.
Abbitt, Jackson, and Givens all cooperated with investigators and all three entered guilty pleas early in 2018. Blowe went to trial in January and was found guilty on multiple charges.

On May 11, Blowe was sentenced to serve 42 years in prison. Abbitt was sentenced to four years, and Jackson to just over six years.

Haislip said the Commonwealth’s recommendation for sentencing in the Givens case was between 2.5 and 3.5 years, adding that Givens had no significant criminal background and had assisted in the case against Blowe.

The judge instead sentenced him to a total of four years. However, Givens will be permitted to apply for a work release program.

Like his co-defendants, Givens also was ordered pay around $13,000 in restitution to the Virginia Victims Fund. The fund is designed to help victims cover their out-of-pocket expenses in the aftermath of a violent crime.

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