Virginia Offenders

Stephen Sneade

David Sanchez

Aaron Spangler
A Chesterfield County, Virginia teen who never got over the death of his father in a drunken-driving crash eight years ago was sentenced Thursday to serve time in a state juvenile center for killing a close friend in a alcohol-related crash last June. Aaron N. Spangler, who was 17 at the time of the crash, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on his conviction of involuntary manslaughter and to an additional 12 months for driving under the influence of alcohol. But in a move designed to salvage the teen’s life while punishing him for his mistake, Circuit Judge Michael C. Allen suspended both sentences for 20 years on the condition he be committed indefinitely to the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice. Spangler could remain in a juvenile correctional center until his 21st birthday, but the court will review his case in two years. The judge also ordered Spangler to pay $90,000 in restitution — at a minimum of $100 a month — for the health care his friend Chris Matherly received before he died. Matherly had no health insurance. Spangler was declared a “serious offender” under a Virginia law that allows a judge to give a defendant who was younger than 18 at the time of the offense a blended sentence of both juvenile and adult punishment. Chesterfield prosecutor B.J. McGee and defense attorney Kevin D. Purnell agreed on the arrangement — which McGee declared unusual — but the prosecutor wanted more incarceration time to send a message of deterrence to the community. Spangler “as a person doesn’t deserve it,” McGee told the court. “But his actions do.” Spangler, who was a senior at Clover Hill High School when the crash occurred, was described by the school’s principal, his guidance counselor, his mother and others as a quiet, kind and caring young man who never fully got over the death of his father when he was just 10. About eight years ago, Spangler’s father — grieving over the death of his own dad about three weeks earlier — went to a bar to drink away his sorrow. Later that evening, he crashed into an embankment in Alabama and was critically injured, later dying on Christmas Day, Purnell said. Hours before the crash, Spangler’s father had given his son the option of going with him or staying at his cousin’s house to play video games. Aaron stayed behind. “He felt responsible,” Diona Lawson, Spangler’s mother, told the court. Spangler got into trouble at school for drinking his freshman year and admitted to occasionally smoking marijuana, according to testimony. He did both June 11, hours before the crash. After drinking for 30 minutes that afternoon at a friend’s house, Spangler made a couple of stops in his mother’s 2007 Toyota Camry, visiting another friend and buying food and cigarettes at a nearby 7-Eleven. He picked up Matherly, 18, and another friend, 14, and the three ended up driving south in the 800 block of Courthouse Road very early the next morning. While rounding a curve there at about 70 mph, Spangler lost control and the car crossed over the center median into the northbound lanes. The vehicle veered off the road, struck a culvert and went airborne before slamming into a tree, landing on its roof. Matherly, sitting behind Spangler, was critically injured. He died the next day at VCU Medical Center. “I wish there was a magic way we could all go back,” Matherly’s mother, Jenna Schaeffer, told the court in tearful testimony.

Kenneth Davis, Vernon Jackson, and unnamed 13 year old

 17-year-old boy authorities say was responsible for initiating the kicking and beating death of an elderly Tempe man in Lynchburg, Va. was found guilty of first-degree murder.  Kenneth Davis, who was 16 at the time of the crime, was found guilty of the charge by a jury in Lynchburg Circuit Court in a crowded courtroom on Thursday in connection to the death of George Baker III, 81. The jury deliberated for about an hour and 40 minutes, according to Jeff Bennett, an attorney in the Commonwealth of Virginia’s District Attorney’s Office. Police say Davis and Vernon Jackson, both 16 at the time of the crime, and a 13-year-old boy attacked and beat Baker in downtown Lynchburg as he was walking to a restaurant the evening after his granddaughter’s wedding on Sept. 5. Baker died hours later at a nearby hospital. Police say Davis told his friends he was walking with that night, “I’m going to hit the next person I see,” and initiated the crime to impress a girl. Davis is the second teenager to be found guilty of first-degree murder in Baker’s death and will be sentenced on May 20. Teenagers being convicted of first-degree murder is not a very common occurrence in Virginia, according to Bennett, who prosecuted the case. “This is the first time I’ve prosecuted a juvenile for first-degree murder, and the first one that I know of in my nine years here,” Bennett said. “The evidence that came up in court was that the attack was essentially Davis’ idea.” Davis did not testify during his trial, Bennett said. Davis’ attorney, Gordon Peters Jr., could not be reached for comment. Last week, the 13-year-old boy, who now is 14 and is not being named, also was found guilty of first-degree murder by a judge in the Lynchburg Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. He will be sentenced on April 6 in Lynchburg’s Juvenile Domestic Relations Court. Under Virginia state law, he cannot face life in prison but could be held until he is 21, according to Mike Dousette, an attorney in the Virginia Commonwealth’s district attorney’s office. The trial of Vernon Jackson, the other 16-year-old who participated in the attack on Baker, was scheduled to begin on Monday, but has been rescheduled for April, according to information from the Lynchburg Circuit Court. He also has been charged with first-degree murder. Davis and Jackson are being held in the Blue Ridge Regional Jail.

4 Responses to Virginia Offenders

  1. DONNA BOLDIN says:

    The murder of this elderly man is a tragedy and very unfprtunate,but teenagers
    need an outlet and commonwealth and its conservative and old ways need to change They are still fighting the civil war here our children of all colors need
    something constructive to do here instead of commonwealth pocketing all the money to fight 0bama,the war is here in the streets when commonwealth restores its historical values and its old ways we will see change and also we need diversity in the judicial system,the black robes are just ,the extension of
    the hoods wore by the kluklux klan for people of color. I donot excuse the allrged crime,The life sentence is for the col0r of these boys skin. Speight killed
    8 of his own people and receiving psychiatric help.Race is the only factor in
    sentencing 3 African American boys to life. My son fought in Iraq he said mom
    on the battle field we are all equal. Virginia Tech was G0ds wrath,the sentencing of these boys to life will be reaped by God. remember my email
    They deserve time in jail, NOT LIFE .they are serving life, being black in America. WAKEUP we are different,but we are all gods children. wait for gods wrath Sincerely DONNA BOLDIN

    • jbjenkins says:

      Donna – thank you for sharing your point of view. I would respond that nobody can receive a conviction because they are a person of color. They can only receive a conviction like this if they commit a murder. The majority of these teen killer cases nationally are not African American. Much as I appreciate your compassion for people, you surely are not suggesting that the reason these offenders committed murder is because God wanted it to be so? And that young men need some sort of “outlet”? I must say to the 32 families of the dead at Virginia Tech, and the other victims of these crimes, I would find that assertion deeply offensive.

      • Donnaboldin says:

        I am simply saying murder of any race is a tragedy , but the scales of justice are blind in Virginia, Speight killed 8 family members and due to his race he is vacationing in a mental hospital. DC snipers concept of murder was the same he was executed, dUE to the color of his skin, he did not fit the criteria of Life in Prison. Virginia Tech killings was a Tragedy,donot take what I say out of context, your research should lead you to
        what pompted these killings so this will not happen again, all your degrees can you figure that out well, I can, in this society if you stay to yourself and donot wish to interact with some foolish people you are immediately profiled, and called weird a nerd, what this young man did was wrong ,but with all your fancy cars and houses do you or can you predict another occurance,no..TO all the 32 families of the Virginia Tech shooting I am deeply saddened by your Lost, but We as human beings are on a day to day basis bullying or racial profiling someone due to our differences,I am disabled and deal with the looks and snickers of my fellow hunan beings.Look in the mirror and your own backyards and then maybe we can prevent further Tragedies until then close your mouths. Recently a 17 year old AFRICAN AMERICAN boy was shot to death because he looked like he was up to something the shooter sad,Open your mind and hearts and donot close your eyes it is as plain as the nose on you face. God sees us as his children not by the color of our skin Virginia Wakeup

        • Donnaboldin says:

          We still need diversity in the justice system in commonwealth of virginia.The plantations are closed but the jails are getting fuller.It is not all about the law in Commonwealth monetary gain is it a BILLION dollar industry

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