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After 26 years of service, Petersburg’s Commonwealth Attorney announces retirement

PETERSBURG, Va. – The longest elected official to serve Petersburg has announced her retirement, amid one of the city's grimmest chapters in history.

After serving for 25 years and 11 months, the former Commonwealth's Attorney Cassandra Conover said she is ready for a new adventure.

"I'm actually in my dissertation phase, for my Doctorate in Education,” Conover said. “I actually defend my proposal in about four or five weeks."

Conover's rise in Petersburg started as the 80's were ending; she arrived in August 1989 and shortly after became the city’s first black public defender.

In September of 1990, the Commonwealth's Attorney Position opened up and then she was appointed on May 15, 1991.

"I'm the senior female Commonwealth's Attorney for Virginia and I'm the senior black district attorney, female district attorney in the United States,” she said.

Beyond the courtroom, Conover has supported many causes, including Kiwanis and Alpha Kappa Alpha, but there are two things she considers to be major achievements.

"Probably one of the biggest achievements in 1994, with then Delegate Jay Deboer, we crafted the felony child endangerment law, part b, reckless endangerment,” Conover said.

And she prosecuted the case of Johnny Webb.

"That was the first in the nation that was attempted murder by having unprotected sex, knowing that he was infected with HIV,” Conover said.

She is leaving a legacy in the courtroom and hoping to continue creating one in her community. Her life has m mostly been spent in Virginia. Conover was born in Lynchburg and graduated from the University of Virginia. After finishing law school she began work with the Tidewater Legal Aid Society – in 1987.

"I'm just a woman of God, who does what's right, whose not afraid to stand on her own,” she said.