Four years after he was convicted of murdering an Alexandria woman in a car crash while drunk and permanently barred from driving, a Fairfax County man has been charged with driving while intoxicated in another collision.
David Earl Fleming, 60, who killed a mother of 11 while driving 80 miles an hour down the wrong side of the George Washington Parkway in 1983, was arrested last night in connection with a Nov. 9 crash that occurred less than three miles from the scene of the fatal collision. Sources said there were no serious injuries in the most recent crash.
Fleming was charged last night with drunk driving and driving on a revoked operator's license, according to U.S. Attorney Henry E. Hudson, who said Fleming originally was released after showing officers a license he had fraudulently obtained since his release from prison.
"My office intends to use every legal recourse to make sure the maximum punishment is imposed in this case," Hudson said.
At his trial on second-degree murder charges in January 1984, a defense psychiatrist described Fleming as an "acute and chronic alcoholic out of control." Fleming has been convicted of drunk driving on at least three previous occasions dating back to 1973, including the 1983 fatal crash.
That wreck occurred June 15, when Fleming slammed his vehicle into a compact car being driven by Margaret Haley, 55, of the Fort Hunt area of Fairfax. Haley, who was killed instantly, was returning home after doing volunteer work at Good Shepherd Catholic Church.
"He wasn't just a drunk driver," Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Cynkar said at Fleming's trial. "He was going south in a northbound lane during rush hour, and he was driving at speeds of more than 80 miles per hour." The impact of the crash knocked Haley's car 10 feet into the air.
Fleming's blood alcohol content at the time of the crash was .315 percent. Under Virginia law, anyone with a blood alcohol content of more than .10 percent is automatically convicted of drunk driving.
Prosecutors refused to allow Fleming to plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter, instead prosecuting him on a charge of second-degree murder and several traffic charges. Jurors brought back a guilty verdict in 90 minutes.
Judge Richard L. Williams sentenced Fleming to 4 1/2 years in prison on the charges and permanently revoked his driver's license. Hudson said last night he had not yet learned whether Fleming had been given an early release from prison and whether the latest charge might violate the terms of any parole Fleming might have received.
Hudson declined to provide details of the Nov. 9 incident, but sources said that Fleming was driving several miles south of Alexandria, near the Parkway's intersection with Morningside Lane, when he veered across the center line and struck an oncoming vehicle.
Hudson said Fleming originally was released because U.S. Park Police officers, who were shown his fraudulent driver's license after the crash, were unaware of his driving record.
Fleming was arrested last night by U.S. Park Police officers and U.S. deputy marshals at his home on Greenway Road in the Mount Vernon area, which is near the site of both wrecks. He was taken to the Alexandria City Jail and is to be arraigned in U.S. Magistrate's Court this morning.
A number of details about the Nov. 9 accident remained unclear last night. Hudson said that the driver's license Fleming had when he was arrested was issued in his name. But Hudson said he did not know what state had issued the license or how Fleming had obtained it in spite of the permanent revocation.
It also was unclear why Fleming's record did not show up at the time of the Nov. 9 accident or how police eventually determined he was the same man involved in the 1983 crash.
Hudson said that Fleming was charged with driving while intoxicated after the Nov. 9 collision, but that he was released after police judged him able to drive.
Hudson did not know how high Fleming's blood alcohol content was at the time of the Nov. 9 crash and did not know the identity of anyone involved in the collision except Fleming.