Flee from DUI crash result in convictions for West Point woman
A West Point woman who attempted to flee the scene of an accident received a pair of convictions during Monday morning proceedings in New Kent Circuit Court.
Virginia Mary Carter, 42, of the 2400 block of Oak Lane, received guilty verdicts on one count each of felony failure to stop at the scene of an accident and misdemeanor DUI (first offense) stemming from an Aug. 1, 2016 incident.
Virginia State Trooper Arthur Doss testified that on the aforementioned date, he received a call to respond to a fatal accident on Interstate 64 near mile marker 217. The trooper proceeded eastbound on the highway, getting in front of traffic and bringing it to a standstill. But the officer noticed something strange after exiting the car.
“After I stepped out of my car, I noticed a white van that had heavy front damage on the shoulder of the road,” the trooper said. “The vehicle wasn’t there earlier on the side when I had passed moments before.”
Doss also noticed a woman shifting from the center console to the passenger’s side seat. Doss approached the woman, identified as Carter, about what had happened. Carter told the trooper that a man had bailed out the van and she was just the passenger. However, Doss detected a strong odor of alcohol.
“I advised her to stay there as I went to work on the other accident as it was the priority at that time,” the trooper added.
As Doss informed another trooper who had arrived at the scene, he saw Carter begin walking westbound in the eastbound lanes. The trooper ran and wrestled with the defendant, who said she had to use the bathroom. Shortly after catching up with the defendant, a be-on-the-lookout call came in over the dispatch radio, advising of a hit-and-run that happened on Interstate 64 eastbound at mile marker 216. At that time, Doss detained Carter as more information was received.
Alejandro Garcia approached the witness’ stand, recapping what he experienced on that day.
“I was heading to the company office in Newport News and traffic began to slow down,” he said. “As I was in the left lane, a white truck hit the back of me and went down into the left ditch.
“The vehicle began backing up out the ditch and I saw a woman driving and she looked panicked,” Garcia continued. “I got out the car and saw my bumper, tailgate, and light damaged.”
Garcia testified that he called 9-1-1 to report the incident. After about an hour, he received a call from Doss who asked him if he could drive the vehicle to his location a mile ahead due to the other accident. Garcia testified that after arriving at the officer’s location, he noticed a woman sitting in the rear of the police cruiser who looked similar to the person who struck his vehicle.
Defense attorney Todd Duval’s cross-examination revolved around Garcia’s recollection of the suspect. Garcia admitted that he remembered a woman with brownish-blond hair hitting him but couldn’t pinpoint if Carter was the driver. However, Adriana Howard, who was also driving home the same day, testified she could along with a few other observations.
“I saw the car swerving back and forth once it got on the interstate from the 214 ramp,” Howard said. “I was in the left lane and got out of her way because something told me to. I looked in my rearview mirror and saw it was a woman with brownish-blond hair and looked at her again when she passed me on the road.
“As traffic started to slow down on the highway the van didn’t,” the witness continued. That’s when I saw it strike the back of the truck and go down into the ditch.”
Howard said after the accident, she pulled onto the right shoulder of the road to check on the driver of the van due to the vehicle running into the ditch. But as she did, Howard said that she saw the van cross over both lanes of traffic and drive up the right shoulder.
“The front end of the van was mangled and it looked like it had possible flat tires,” the witness continued. “After that I got back in line with traffic because I knew it was illegal to drive on the shoulder and hoped I could catch up with the vehicle.”
As traffic began moving again, Howard spotted the van and Trooper Doss. She pulled over to the side and informed the officer of what she had seen. After receiving that information along with a written report on what Garcia had experienced, Doss placed Carter into custody.
Duval argued on the defendant’s behalf, saying that neither witness could positively identify Carter as the driver of the car. But Judge B. Elliott Bondurant disagreed, saying that both witnesses’ accounts along with the trooper’s observations provided enough evidence for a conviction.
“The trooper observed the movement in the van and also that the vehicle wasn’t there when he had passed just a few minutes before,” the judge said. “Mr. Garcia testified that the woman who hit him had golden brown hair and identified Carter when she was sitting in the trooper’s vehicle.
“Ms. Howard also testified that she saw the defendant twice and got a look at her because of the weaving on the road,” Bondurant continued. “She observed the defendant when the van was behind her and when it passed her.
“Finally, Trooper Doss not only testified that he smelt a strong odor of alcohol, but he also noticed Ms. Carter had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. I find those as facts of the case and I find the defendant guilty on both charges.”
Formal sentencing for Carter is scheduled for May 8. In other circuit court proceedings:
–Justin Earl Ball, 25, of the 13000 block of Stage Road, Lanexa, accepted a plea deal to one count of larceny. In a summary of evidence, on May 27, 2016, Ball was staying at the victim’s home while homeowners were away on vacation. When the family returned, they noticed a digital camera and bottles of liquor missing. An investigation revealed that Ball had stolen the camera and sold it for money to feed a drug habit.
Under the agreement, formal sentencing is set for May 1 as the defendant will undergo an evaluation to be placed in the Community Corrections Alternative Program (formerly known as the Detention and Diversion program). The defendant will also be sentenced on a Sept. 8, 2015 firearm conviction on that day as well. Ball, however, was sentenced to time served on a felony failure to appear and a misdemeanor pretrial violation and is expected to pay $1,360 in restitution.
–Nicholas Paul Garrett, 21, of Sandston, entered a straight guilty plea to one count of firearm larceny. In a summary of evidence, Virginia State Trooper Sgt. R. Gammon returned from vacation and was preparing for work on Aug. 24 when he noticed his belt was lighter than normal. Upon inspecting his equipment, he noticed an air pistol had replaced his duty issued firearm. After an investigation, Gammon contacted his daughter’s boyfriend, Garrett, who confessed to the crime. The defendant said he took the gun and had given it away to a person who he owed money to at the time.
Formal sentencing for Garrett is pegged for May 8, but he is expected to pay restitution in the amount of $631.20.