Jail and forgiveness in Loudoun drowsy driving death

LEESBURG, Va. — Jimmy Hartman hadn’t been sleeping very well but on the morning of March 22, 2017, he left the house as usual to get to work. However, on that day, the 22-year-old’s morning commute would change his life, and the lives of others, forever. Instead of reaching work, his vehicle crossed the double yellow line on Virginia Route 15 in Loudoun County, and struck a Subaru heading in the opposite direction, killing the driver. The victim, Michael Larrick, 29, had been married five months before the fatal crash. It happened near the intersection with Montresor Road, north of Leesburg. Minutes after the crash, Hartman told a sheriff’s deputy he “fell asleep for a second.” He said he had been working a lot, not sleeping much and was exhausted. Hartman was arrested and later indicted on a charge of reckless driving. On Tuesday, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one year in jail for the crime. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Ryan Perry said Hartman made the conscious decision to drive knowing that he was tired. “When (Hartman) got behind the wheel of that car, he made a choice,” Perry said. “This has to be a sentence that not only punishes for the loss inflicted, but also sends a message to every other driver in the Commonwealth.” During victim impact statements, Larrick’s widow said she forgave Hartman and asked him to live the best life he could. In announcing a sentence, Circuit Court Judge Douglas Fleming told Hartman his decision to drive “unintentionally and unlawfully” had a far reaching, severe and negative impact. He said this case should serve as a “cautionary tale” to any driver who chooses to get behind the wheel when fatigued. After serving his jail sentence, Hartman will be on supervised probation for one year, lose his license for 12 months and be required to speak in the county’s monthly Victim Impact Panel program. Like WTOP on Facebook Continue Reading

Va briefs

Man sentenced for making online threatsALEXANDRIA — A northern Virginia man has been sentenced to nearly five years in prison for making online threats to shoot CIA employees as they arrived for work.William Lewis Weaver, 36, of Herndon pleaded guilty in December to threatening harm against government workers.Court records indicate Weaver received an enhanced sentence because authorities determined he engaged in conduct showing an intent to carry out the threat.Specifically, he tried unsuccessfully to buy a shotgun. Weaver was arrested the day after the attempted purchase.Still, the 57-month sentence he received Friday in federal court in Alexandria was less than the 10-year sentence sought by prosecutors.Court records indicate Weaver engaged in a pattern of troubling behavior, including a disturbance at a hospital when he accused doctors of implanting a tracking chip.Woman charged in work zone injuryPETERSBURG — A Virginia woman has been charged with reckless driving after police say her car struck and seriously injured a contractor repairing guardrails on Interstate 85.Patrice West of North Chesterfield was also charged with failure to maintain control and driving with a suspended license after the accident Friday afternoon.Donald Wesley of Chesapeake, a Virginia Department of Transportation contractor, was working on guardrails in a work zone on the left shoulder of I-85 when a 2010 Nissan Maxima driven by West veered off the road and struck him.Wesley remained hospitalized and was listed in stable condition Saturday.Police: Social media dispute led to deathPORTSMOUTH — Authorities say an argument over a social media post resulted in a Virginia woman’s shooting death.Portsmouth police said in a release Friday that 20-year-old Joshua Bowen is charged with first-degree murder in 39-year-old Jennifer Bartell’s death, while 40-year-old Shaunicka Cooley, 19-year-old Albany Pierce and 38-year-old Shyrayno Jackson are each charged with Continue Reading

Va. driver in 2016 crash that killed 5-month-old boy gets 12 months in jail

A Virginia man who was found guilty of reckless driving in a 2016 crash that killed a 5-month-old boy in a stroller was sentenced Thursday to a year in jail. On Aug. 31, 2016, John Miller IV was driving north about 8:10 a.m. on Coton Manor Drive in the Lansdowne area of Loudoun County when he made a left onto Riverside Parkway. He struck Tristan Schulz, who was in a stroller being pushed by his mother, Mindy Schulz, in a crosswalk. Tristan was killed, and his mother, who had just dropped off her 7-year-old son at school, was injured. On Thursday, Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge Douglas L. Fleming sentenced Miller to 12 months in jail, suspended his license for 12 months and fined him $2,500 for reckless driving and $250 for failure to yield. “We are disappointed with the judge’s decision, but, of course, as officers of the court we are bound to respect it,” attorney Steven T. Webster said. John Miller IV (Courtesy of Loudoun County Sheriff) [Virginia man found guilty of reckless driving in crash that killed 5-month-old boy] Miller tried to avoid jail time. In a brief filed Friday, the 47-year-old golf instructor requested probation, a fine and community service. The brief noted that he is the sole caretaker of his wife, who was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm shortly after their marriage in 2008, and that he also cares for his father, who suffers from cancer. The brief noted that Miller was not intoxicated, remained on the scene and was not on his phone when he struck the Schulzes. Prosecutors dropped an involuntary manslaughter charge in September. Prosecutors were not immediately available to comment on the sentencing. Continue Reading

VA man was behind Christmas car heist, Stafford cops say

STAFFORD - A man from Virginia led police across two towns on Christmas Day after cops said he fled from a car crash that involved a stolen car and then forcibly stole car keys and a vehicle from a Stafford homeowner. Christian Zolea, 27, was arrested Monday around 11 p.m. after he tried to escape through the woods in Barnegat using a GMC pickup truck that he stole from a Stafford resident earlier that night, said Stafford Police Lt. James Vaughn. Zolea attempted to flee from police, but he crashed the truck into a tree, Vaughn said. Following his arrest, Zolea, of Hampton, Virginia, was charged with burglary, theft, robbery, possession of stolen property, eluding, resisting arrest, reckless driving, leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident and failure to maintain lane, Vaughn said. A few hours before Zolea crashed the truck into the tree, Vaughn said Stafford police officers were dispatched around 9:55 p.m. to respond to a minor three-car crash at 520 Route 9 North — perhaps better known as the Wawa on Route 9 North at Cedar Bridge Road, in the Manahawkin section of town.As they conducted the investigation, Vaughn said officers learned a white male fled from a black 2016 Lincoln MKC that was one of the three cars involved in the crash.Officers discovered the Lincoln was reported stolen from New York City and searched the area for the man who ran from the crash, to no avail, Vaughn said. But less than an hour later, around 10:47 p.m., Vaughn said police were alerted that a white male with the same description as the suspect in the car crash went into a nearby home on Route 9 North, forcibly took the resident's keys to a red 2007 GMC pickup truck and fled. The man was gone before police arrived, but Stafford police began searching the area and neighboring agencies were notified, Vaughn said. Around 11 p.m., Vaughn said Stafford Patrolman Jacob Conner found the GMC behind a hunting Continue Reading

USA TODAY Investigation: VA knowingly hires doctors with past malpractice claims, discipline for poor care

 Neurosurgeon John Henry Schneider racked up more than a dozen malpractice claims and settlements in two states, including cases alleging he made surgical mistakes that left patients maimed, paralyzed or dead.He was accused of costing one patient bladder and bowel control after placing spinal screws incorrectly, he allegedly left another paralyzed from the waist down after placing a device improperly in his spinal canal. The state of Wyoming revoked his medical license after another surgical patient died.Schneider then applied for a job earlier this year at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Iowa City, Iowa. He was forthright in his application about the license revocation and other malpractice troubles.But the VA hired him anyway.He started work in April at a hospital that serves 184,000 veterans in 50 counties in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri.Some of his patients already have suffered complications. Schneider performed four brain surgeries in a span of four weeks on one 65-year-old veteran who died in August, according to interviews with Schneider and family members. He has performed three spine surgeries on a 77-year-old Army veteran since July — the last two to try and clean up a lumbar infection from the first, the patient said.Schneider’s hiring is not an isolated case. A VA hospital in Oklahoma knowingly hired a psychiatrist previously sanctioned for sexual misconduct who went on to sleep with a VA patient, according to internal documents. A Louisiana VA clinic hired a psychologist with felony convictions. The VA ended up firing him after they determined he was a “direct threat to others” and the VA’s mission.As a result of USA TODAY’s investigation of Schneider, VA officials determined his hiring — and potentially that of an unknown number of other doctors — was illegal.Federal law bars the agency from hiring physicians whose license has been revoked Continue Reading

Readers sound off on housing, Goldie Hawn and VA healthcare

Mayor’s road to unaffordability Manhattan: In defending Mayor de Blasio’s housing production plan, Rafael Cestero ignores the central problem with it (“The Right Path to Affordability,” Op-Ed, May 17). In order to persuade private developers to build a certain amount of affordable housing, the city is awarding them with massive subsidies that will result in the production of a much greater amount of market-rate housing. The model is 25 to 30% affordable and 70 to 75% market. And this program is being pushed in areas of the city where developers have been unwilling to build in the past. In East New York, for example, the plan is supposed to be 50-50, with 3,000 market rate and 3,000 affordable apartments. You cannot plop down that many market-rate units in that neighborhood without unleashing the forces of gentrification and displacement. Granted, these apartments will not command Manhattan rents, but they will be far higher than current residents could pay, attracting more affluent newcomers, with coffee bars not far behind. Add the additional subsidies of the new 421-a giveaway to developers and we will see gentrification on steroids in the next few years. De Blasio deserves credit for many excellent policies, most notably the partial rent freeze for rent-stabilized tenants and expanding anti-eviction legal services. But it is important to understand the inevitable impact of his housing production plan on marginal neighborhoods across the city. Michael McKee, treasurer, Tenants Political Action Committee Funny Goldie Manhattan: To Voicer Christa Clark regarding Goldie Hawn not being funny: Check out “Cactus Flower.” It has a bunch of good actors and Goldie is terrifically cute and funny! Bill Caplan Funny Goldie II Woodside: To Voicer Christa Clarke: Run, don’t walk, to your TV and watch “Foul Play.” After that watch “Private Benjamin,” “Death Becomes Her” and Continue Reading

Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth sentenced to 10 days in jail for reckless driving conviction

FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) — Washington Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth was convicted Friday of reckless driving and sentenced to 10 days in jail for driving his Porsche over 100 mph on the Capital Beltway earlier this year. Fairfax County General District Court Judge Penney Azcarate said a jail sentence was appropriate given the excessive speed. “I-495 is not a racetrack,” Azcarate said in imposing the sentence. She added that her sentence would be the same regardless of “what a person does for a living.” Werth, wearing glasses and a conservative suit, briefly took the stand in his own defense. He conceded that he may have been going 90 mph, but disputed that he ever broke 100. It is not unusual in Virginia for defendants to receive short jail sentences on reckless driving convictions where the speeds exceed 100 mph. Werth’s lawyer, Rod Leffler, sought unsuccessfully to have the case tossed out, questioning the reliability of the trooper’s pacing of Werth. Leffler also asked the judge to take into account that the incident occurred at 9:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning, when traffic was light. Werth, 35, who has three seasons left on a $126 million, seven-year contract with the Nationals, will have the option of appealing his conviction to Fairfax County Circuit Court. Leffler did not immediately return a call Friday seeking comment. While the judge imposed a 10-day sentence, in reality Werth would likely only serve five days because of rules and procedures at the county jail. During the trial, state trooper P.L. Green testified that on July 6, he followed Werth for about half a mile on the beltway at 105 miles an hour before pulling him over on the exit to the George Washington Parkway. Green said he drew his weapon as a precaution as he approached Werth, though he quickly holstered it and said the conversation they had during the stop was cordial. Green said he asked Werth what he was doing and Werth said “he was pushing his Continue Reading

Va. Shore woman dies in head-on crash in Onley

A 29-year-old Accomack County woman died Wednesday morning in a head-on collision on Locustville Road near Onley, Virginia State Police said.Police said the crash happened at around 7:28 a.m. on Locustville Road, north of Stone House Road. READ MORE:  Va. Shore man pleads guilty in slaying of boy, 13​ A 2012 Nissan Altima driven by Kristina Albrecht, 29, of Exmore was traveling southbound on Locustville Road and a 2005 Chrysler Town and Country van driven by Courtney L. Emanueli, 34, of Onley was traveling northbound when the two vehicles struck head on, according to 1st Sgt. B. E. Jeff Jones of the Virginia State Police.Albrecht was transported to Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital. where she was pronounced deceased upon arrival by hospital staff.Emanueli was injured in the crash and also was transported to Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital.Albrecht was not wearing her seat belt, according to Virginia State Police spokeswoman Michelle Anaya.Charges of reckless driving are pending against Emanueli, Anaya said. Continue Reading

Man seen with U.Va. student wanted on driving charge

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — As volunteers and authorities continued to search for a missing University of Virginia student, police announced Sunday that a man seen with the student before she disappeared was being sought on arrest warrants charging him with reckless driving.Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo said Jesse Matthew, a person of interest in Hannah Graham's disappearance, went to the Charlottesville Police Department on Saturday afternoon and asked for the name of a lawyer.He was provided with a lawyer and left in a vehicle, driving at a high rate of speed that endangered other drivers. Police did not speak with Matthew, who sped away from the police station and is now wanted for reckless driving, Longo said. SATURDAY: A thousand volunteers search for missing U.Va. student FRIDAY: Police ID man who left bar with missing U.Va. studentMatthew has not been charged in the disappearance of the 18-year-old who was last seen Sept. 13 in Charlottesville."I believe Jesse Matthew was the last person she was seen with before she vanished off the face of the Earth because it's been a week and we can't find her," said Longo.Police searched Matthew's car and apartment and are awaiting forensic tests, he added."I've made no mistake about it. We want to talk to Jesse Matthew. We want to talk to him," Longo said.Witnesses saw Graham of Alexandria, Va., inside a downtown restaurant and bar with a 32-year-old man who had been observed earlier on surveillance video tailing the sophomore, Longo said.During Sunday's news conference, Graham's parents thanked authorities and the community for all of their help and urged anyone who might know anything to come forward."I think the reason that Hannah has such marvelous support is that this is every parent's nightmare," said her father, John Graham. "We need to find out what happened to Hannah, and make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else."John Graham continued, "Somebody knows what happened to Hannah, we don't know Continue Reading

Queens driver charged with reckless driving in Virginia bus crash that left four passengers dead

A Queens man was asleep at the wheel of a New York-bound bus that skidded off the highway in Virginia early Tuesday, killing four passengers and badly injuring scores more, police said. Kin Yiu Cheung, 37, was charged with reckless driving in connection with the crash that left a motor coach flipped over on its roof and trapped passengers inside screaming for help. The Flushing man was employed by the Sky Express Bus Company, a problem plagued business based in North Carolina. "The driver was fatigued when he ran off the right side of the road," Sgt. Thomas Molnar of the Virginia State Police said. Cheung was being held on $3,000 bond and cooperating with investigators, Molnar said. The early morning accident paralyzed northbound traffic on Interstate 95 for hours as rescue crews raced to the scene and removed the victims. The Sky Express Bus, which left Greensboro, N.C. at 10:30 p.m. Monday, was carrying 59 passengers when it strayed off a highway and hit an embankment around 5 a.m. The crash was about 30 miles north of Richmond, Va. Cheung, who had a seat belt, suffered only a few bump and bruises. Meanwhile, the injured passengers - some of them in critical condition - were taken to Richmond and Fredericksburg-area hospitals. Sky Express has an abysmal safety record, with four previous crashes - including one that resulted in a fatality, according to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration records. Sky Express has been the subject of four compliance investigations since 2008, the records show. The bus company was cited for 46 violations related to fatigued driving, including three that were classified as serious, in the past two years. Their drivers have also been cited for 17 unsafe-driving violations, including eight speeding violations since 2009.Of all the motor coach companies recently surveyed by the feds, Sky Express had the worst score (99.7%) in the "driver fitness" category and earned lousy scores for Continue Reading