A young Spotsylvania County woman who drove over and killed a 92-year-old man in his yard last year was acquitted of a reckless driving charge Friday.
The driver was convicted in Spotsylvania Circuit Court of a lesser misdemeanor, driving without a license, and received a suspended six-month sentence.
Stephen Chadwick was in his garden in the 6100 block of River Road near the intersection of River Downs Drive on March 11, 2020, when an out-of-control 2005 Cadillac Escalade entered his gated yard between two brick pillars. The vehicle ended up on top of Chadwick, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
Evidence showed the driver was heading east on River Road when she ran off the right side of the road, overcorrected and entered Chadwick’s driveway.
Defense attorney Joseph Pricone successfully defended the reckless driving charge. He pointed to evidence that showed the driver was going no more than 14 mph over the speed limit and that a passenger grabbed the steering wheel after she ran off the road initially.
Prosecutor John Ackerman argued the driver deserved to serve significant jail time. Driving without a license carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail.
“She got behind the wheel of an SUV without a license and a man was killed,” Ackerman said. “But for her actions, Mr. Chadwick would not have died that day.”
Ackerman acknowledged that Chadwick’s widow did not want the driver punished, and Pricone agreed that no jail time was necessary. He pointed out she had no criminal record and is properly licensed now.
“Fourteen miles per hour over the speed limit for a first offender does not merit jail time,” Pricone said. “There’s no reason to believe she’ll commit future crimes.”
Judge Ricardo Rigual said he hoped the driver had learned her lesson.
“People your age often don’t really realize how dangerous it is to drive a motor vehicle,” Rigual said.
As part of her sentence, the license she now has will be suspended for 90 days.
Keith Epps: 540/374-5404