A 37-year-old Sterling man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for a drunken driving accident that killed a 26-year-old woman in June.
After a three-day trial, a Loudoun Circuit Court jury convicted David A. Stevens on Wednesday of aggravated involuntary manslaughter in connection with the crash that killed Heather Watson, also of Sterling. Stevens was sentenced during a hearing that stretched into Wednesday night.
Prosecutors said Stevens was driving a Chevrolet Geo southbound on Sterling Boulevard about 2 a.m. June 29 when he entered the intersection with East Frederick Drive and broadsided a Honda Accord that was making a left turn onto East Frederick Drive. Watson, a passenger in the Honda, was taken by helicopter to Washington Hospital Center where she was pronounced dead.
The driver of the Honda, Barry Childers, 28, of Manassas, was charged with driving under the influence. His case was pending.
Prosecutors said Stevens had been drinking beer and mixed drinks at a local bar and had a blood alcohol level far above Virginia's legal limit of .08. A toxicologist from Inova Fairfax Hospital testified that Stevens had a blood alcohol level between .24 and .25, prosecutors said.
One key issue in the trial was whether Childers turned left on a green arrow or on a green light, said Loudoun County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert D. Anderson (R). If Childers had a green arrow, as he testified, Stevens would have had a red light. But if Childers turned on a green light, his Honda would have crossed into Stevens's path.
Stevens's attorney, Deputy Public Defender Bonnie Hoffman, did not return a call for comment.
Anderson said he argued in court that no matter what the circumstances, Stevens was responsible because he had been drinking. He said accident reconstruction experts said there was no indication that Stevens had tried to brake. "The fact of the matter is that . . . the defendant was incapable of responding to any unexpected circumstances," Anderson said after the trial.
The crash that killed Watson is one of several fatal accidents involving drunken driving that have come before the Loudoun court in recent months. Last month, Sohan Lal Banga, 25, of Herndon was sentenced to 22 years in prison for causing the accident that killed a young couple in March. Banga had pleaded guilty to two counts of involuntary manslaughter and drunken driving.