New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | May 18, 2024

Defendants in high-speed chases in NK plead guilty

By Alan Chamberlain | February 27, 2008 10:29 am

Two men who led New Kent deputies on separate high-speed chases in the county last year have pleaded guilty to felony charges of eluding police.

Garrie Gene Neal, 41, of 9606 Holland St. in Richmond, and Timothy Stuart Taylor, 22, of 1304 Chipper Court in Highland Springs, entered guilty pleas to one count each of felony eluding police on Monday in New Kent Circuit Court. As part of separate plea deals, charges of assaulting a police officer lodged against both men were dropped.

Neal also pleaded guilty to an amended charge of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. He had been indicted for grand larceny auto in connection with a 1999 Ford Escort belonging to Deborah Odell.

Last Oct. 25, two New Kent deputies responded to a report of a single vehicle auto accident at the Terminal Road/Airport Road intersection in Woodhaven Shores. By the time the deputies arrived, the auto had left the scene, but deputies got a description of the car from witnesses and began searching through the subdivision, prosecutor Linwood Gregory told the court in summarizing evidence.

Deputies spotted the car and a chase ensued on Route 640 and eventually on to Route 60, heading west at speeds over 100 miles per hour. Reaching the Route 249 intersection, the driver, later identified as Neal, attempted a right turn on to 249, but lost control. The car crossed over 249, had its tires blown out as it struck curbing, and came to rest in a grassy area next to the new McDonald’s restaurant, Gregory said.

Deputy David Mehalko attempted to arrest the driver, but the car took off again, sideswiping the deputy’s police cruiser and riding on its wheel rims west on Route 60 into Henrico County. A short distance later, the driver lost control again, this time crashing through a fence before coming to a stop. Gregory said deputies employed pepper spray to subdue Neal.

The entire pursuit covered close to seven miles, Gregory said. Neal took the car after Odell, a friend, refused to give him a ride, the prosecutor added.

Judge Thomas B. Hoover labeled Neal’s prior criminal activity as “an absolutely horrible record,” noting previous convictions for drug violations and larceny in Richmond, Henrico, and Hanover. Defense attorney Todd Duval acknowledged his client has “a significant drug problem.”

Hoover followed terms of the plea deal in sentencing Neal to five years in prison with all but one year, six months suspended for the next 20 years. All five years imposed on the unauthorized use charge were suspended for 20 years.

The judge ordered Neal to pay $2,400 in restitution to Odell for damages to her car. The defendant must also pay over $2,000 in civil remedial fees.

Taylor, meanwhile, pleaded guilty to a pair of misdemeanors — vandalism and third offense driving on a revoked license — in addition to the eluding count.

Just after midnight last Oct. 17, Deputy Joey McLaughlin spotted a car driving under the speed limit but weaving across the centerline on Route 640. When he attempted to stop the vehicle, the car sped away and turned west on Route 60 with speeds reaching 70-80 miles per hours, Gregory told the court.

At the Magnolia Woods Drive intersection, a passenger jumped out of the vehicle, but was recognized by the deputy. The chase continued through the Five Lakes subdivision where McLaughlin’s cruiser was struck by the vehicle. Eventually, the car wrecked in a ditch, and the driver got out and fled on foot.

Unable to capture the driver, McLaughlin called for backup, and a Henrico County police aircraft flew in to assist in the search. A suspect was spotted from the air, but that person ran into a marsh and disappeared.

A short time later, Gregory said, a Five Lakes resident alerted the sheriff’s office that a man had appeared at the resident’s door requesting assistance after his car had broken down. The description of clothing worn by the man at the door matched that of the suspect.

Deputies then arrested Taylor, who at first gave a false name, Gregory said. Then the suspect claimed he had been a passenger lying down in the back seat and someone named Mickey was driving, Gregory told the court. McLaughlin, however, testified that only two occupants were in the vehicle.

Hoover, meanwhile, noted that Taylor has a lengthy criminal record both as a juvenile and as an adult. The judge followed the plea deal in sentencing the defendant to four years in prison with all but 14 months suspended for 20 years on the eluding count.

Hoover imposed 90 days in jail with all but a mandatory 10 days suspended and a $250 fine on the driving revoked charge. Twelve months in jail for vandalism were suspended for five years.

Taylor must pay $375 to the sheriff’s office for damage to the police cruiser. The defendant must also pay $1,000 in civil remedial fees.