Attempted capital murder: Wrong-way driver pleads not guilty

news-michaelhogbergMichael Hogberg pleads not guilty to attempted capital murder of a cop.

The man who drove the wrong way down Interstate 64 in June pleaded guilty to drunk driving, but not the attempted capital murder of a police officer.

Michael Dennis Hogberg, 26, of Crozet faces a maximum sentence of 15 years for his guilty pleas to driving under the influence for the third time, felony driving with a suspended license, and felony eluding.

After entering the three guilty pleas in Albemarle Circuit Court November 30, Hogberg said he was not guilty of attempting what Virginia code calls the "willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing of a law-enforcement officer" on June 20, which was his birthday.

Defense attorney David Heilberg asked Judge Cheryl Higgins to dismiss the capital charge, arguing that attempted capital murder relies on circumstantial evidence of the defendant's state of mind and intent to kill.

"On his birthday, he did a terrible thing," said Heilberg. "He has not denied that. To convict him of attempted capital murder is a different thing."

While it's possible to kill without intent, said Heilberg, "You have to have intent to kill to be guilty of attempted capital murder." And his client, said Heilberg, was too intoxicated to form that intent in the 15 seconds he drove toward Virginia State Police Trooper Kevin Frazier on I-64 at approximately 75mph without swerving.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Elliott Casey argued that Hogberg knew he was going the wrong way, recognized that Trooper Frazier was law enforcement, and recognized that if he hit Frazier head on, he would have killed him.

"The defendant never deviated or swerved from Trooper Frazier," said Casey. "That period of time is a lot of time."

"That's a lot of time if you're sober," replied Judge Higgins.

Casey noted that when Hogberg fled, he was very careful to remove the car keys and turn off the headlights, and was well concealed in his hiding place.

And when he was found, Hogberg told the state trooper, "I'm sorry for trying to kill you," said Casey.

Heilberg responded that the impairment of someone as intoxicated as Hogberg, who had a blood alcohol level of .15, combined with adrenaline, could manifest itself with the presence of mind to do some things, and not others.

Hogberg made the news a year ago at the UVA-Virginia Tech game at Scott Stadium when he was arrested for public drunkenness, ran, and was Tased while handcuffed, the latter captured on camera by the Newsplex. The same officer who Tased him, which led to a rewrite on county police policy on Tasing handcuffed suspects, Albemarle Officer Eric Kudro, was the arresting officer in the June incident.

As for how a drunk driver would be charged with willfully planning to kill a cop, police watchdog Steve Shifflett opines, "They charge him for the worst and hope to plead him down."

Adds Shifflett, "That's a strange charge because he was obviously drunk. It's not like it was premeditated. He probably didn't swerve because he was too drunk to make a fast decision."

Judge Higgins will rule on the defense motion to strike the attempted capital charge on December 7.


all yall need to stop hes a good guy

@Toadstool: "The Hook couldn’t find a lawyer?"

Preferably one who has not been disbarred for sleeping in court. ;)

Looks like the Boys In Blue might have finally showed up! :)

Well Chucky, in that case, and if I were you.... I would march right down to The Hook headquarters, slam your fists on the desk a few times, and tell 'em your problems with this story and it's content. This is America, you don't have to tolerate this foolishness from a weekly newspaper! :)

Furthermore, Tim was in a comical mode when he mentioned me. (Sing along!) He's just a good ole boy, never meaning no harm. Beats all you never saw, been in trouble with the law since the day he was born!

Straightening the curves, flattening the hills. Well someday the mountain might get him, but the law never will. Making his way, the only way he knows how. That's just a little bit more than the law will allow.

Just a good ole boy, wouldn't change if he could. Fighting the system like a modern-day Robin Hood. Yee Haw!

So according to Gasbag's logic, the police officer who was traveling on the correct side of the road should have either stopped or moved out of the way so the drunken driver could have continued driving the wrong way down the road, potentially killing or maiming a civilian. I bet the Marine who takes a grenade for his fellow Marines is viewed similarly in Gasbag's eyes--notwithstanding the fact he has no idea for how long both cars were traveling at each other after the Trooper saw Hogberg, or if it was a direct path the entire way.

Also, why is The Hook interviewing him for this story? He was a deputy; that's like having a TSA agent commenting on the federal 9/11 trials. The Hook couldn't find a lawyer?

Wrong as usual.

Typical GSOE though: Someone calls him out on his BS and he deflects instead of responding.

@Gasbag: "EVERYWHERE? You’re the one who mentioned me first in this thread. You can’t have it both ways. Either you want my opinions or you don’t. If you don’t, don’t mention me."

WRONG. Tim Brown mentioned you first, and I mentioned no names in my initial post.

While I can usually ignore your opinions in thread discussions, in this case you were quoted in the article itself. So my post was as much an admonishment of the Hook for deferring to your dubious expertise as it was of you for your propensity to hijack threads.

No Devil, I know about some of these things whether I was there and invoved or not. I know I would never play "head on chicken" using motor vehicles. And even if I did, I would be ashamed to admit I lost and sweerved first. :)

Maybe the kid got 15 years because of some other aggravating factor that none of us know about but which the Defense, Prosecution, and Bench did. Wecan't jump both feet on either party here folks without adding the input from the judicial officers. They didn't lose any sleep over 15 years....Why? I bet there is a good reason.

Somebody, sounds like the major problem in your case was most likely the fact it wasn't caught on video??? If what you say is 100% true, it might not have caused policy to be changed, but it sure would have gotten one or more cops terminated in the blink of an eye.

boooo!, I'm not probably right. I am right.

@Wog - I agree actually, and probably should have been more thorough in my respnose. But I feel as JJ Malloy does - that maybe 5 (or 2-3) years, or something along those lines, would be more appropriate than 15, and that 15 is a bit harsh and too much. Clearly the guy could benefit from some alone time, away from the sauce, to detox and rehab and get himself in order. I once spoke with a guy who was in jail for two years on alcohol related offenses, and used that time to rehabilitate himself. He told me how he went in one way, all screwed up, addicted, and with a short fuse, and came out completely different. Was counseled (spiritual counseling) by other inmates and came out completely calm, focused, and in control, as well as physically rehabbed. Upon release he hit the ground running by getting three jobs, plus squeezing in volunteer work on top of that, in between jobs. Amazing story. So, yeah, sometimes jail is needed, and can be good thing. But in moderation, and it needs to match the crime. Putting the guy away for 15 years when even some actual murderers and child molestors don't get that long is ridiculous. In this case I'm thinking Gasbag is probably right in that the previous tasing bruhaha might be causing some desire for payback.

After working in insurance for some time I can say that driving drunk is not just a violation but a serious offence with strog correlation to losses and future losses. By all means, he deserves to spend some time in jail to learn from his mistakes accopanied by treatment so this is not repeated after his release. The issue surrounding the capital murder are entirely different. It has been mentioned that this would be differnet if he had hit and killed someone, but what if the officer had hit someone in his reckless persuit. What if the actions of the officer playing "chicken" cost the life of Hogberg who was not in his right mind, the officer and potential bistandards driving that night? Would the cop not also bear some of the blame. The simple fact is that this officer created the potential for harm by driving head on to stop a drunk driver not in his right mind. This is a trained officer with resources and tools at his disposal such as laying down a spike strip, taking evasive manuevers to knock the car off the road, or even shotting out the tires if so warnented. Instead, the officer tried to go head on endangering himself, the accused and other bistandards. Should the officer not also be charged with such a charge or reckless driving or driving to endanger? He may not have harmed anyone but did Hogberg? yet he is being charged with attempted capital murder on a police officer who willingly in sane mind put himself there.

15 years in jail is a little much. 5 years would do just fine.

Maybe. But also because it is EVERYWHERE.

EVERYWHERE? You're the one who mentioned me first in this thread. You can't have it both ways. Either you want my opinions or you don't. If you don't, don't mention me.

Hey, don't worry! You're not the Lone Ranger of slow learning. It took a small handful of rogue cops 15 years to learn that if they didn't want my full undivided attention, leave me the heck alone. :)

Wog, it's funny you mention "second guessing law enforcement".

If you dare to recall, it was the suspect in this case who actually had the county police chief second guessing how, when and why his own troops were using or misusing the taser. Policy was changed after the chief ruled his troops were not employing the tool correctly. I'm sure a few of the troops feel as if the suspect above is still owed a little payback for this event.

@Gasbag: "Let me ask, are you some kid who can hardly wait to get on with a cop shoppe someday in the near future? Just curious."

Hardly. Not a cop, no desire to be a cop, and not even related to any cops. But since you asked... I'm just a guy who is sick of hearing from a loudmouth with a chip on his shoulder who got canned from his cop job years ago and now thinks he can get a measure of revenge by bashing the local cops at every turn.

I see ya Gasbag!

Chucky, I didn't say a word about letting him get away. I said you don't take a state issued vehicle and continue in a head on crash course with a civilian who is refusing to stop or swerve. And if you do, you shouldn't have the right to charge him with Attempted Capital Murder when you share negligence halfway by placing yourself in that position.

Let me ask, are you some kid who can hardly wait to get on with a cop shoppe someday in the near future? Just curious.

Whateva, what happened to the sergeant who directed the trooper to push a wrecked UPS truck out of the roadway with his patrol car, do you know? Northern Virginia traffic or not, that seems like a reckless thing to order a trooper to do.

Cops up there in Northern Virginia need to take a chill pill and adopt the same policy the local cop shoppes have, block as many lanes of travel for as long as they possibly can! :)

I personally find "the watchdog" entertaining, but using him for quotes on stories now is starting to get a little ridiculous. Is he on the staff payroll or not? He recently had a big story written here about him and now he is the go to guy for all things law enforcement? really? Come on. You can do better.

Lots of people second guessing law enforcement. They're not just winging it out there, they have training and experience that the second guessers mostly don't have. And Boooo! - What works best for criminal behavior based in a mental disorder is punishment AND treatment, not just one or the other. Time in confinement to contemplate the error of one's ways and treatment at the end to give one the tools to avoid those errors.

So why read anything I compose? Glutton for punishment?

Sounds like the guy needs rehab and some serious alcohol/addiction treatment, more so than murder charges and prison. Alcohol is at the root of his troubles. Treat that, and maybe the rest would work itself out.

Gasbag! oh, snap! You said it brother-in-law is a state trooper and got in BIG trouble for pushing a wrecked UPS truck out of the interstate in NOVA after being told by his sargent to "clear the roadway at all costs" (transmission in the car was kinda shot after that) playing "chicken" would definitely fall into the category of "are you kidding????" Not sure of all the methods used to stop this individual, but I really think there had to be a better way.

Just put him in a cage for life, next time he will kill a mother and three kids while driving drunk.

Guess there's no need to hijack this thread when you're quoted in the article itself!

doesn't eluding a man who previously tased you make a little bit of sense?

Yeah right. If the cops hadn't stopped this clown, and he'd gone on to kill a civilian, people would be on here blasting the "cop shoppe" (I'm looking at YOU Gassy) for getting it wrong.

Well, if you guys are gonna get upset when I don't comment in every thread, I will will try to do better. OK?

It sounds like to me the cop was using his state issued vehicle and playing "chicken" with the suspect. IMHO, this is another evil side effect of these new rookies having grown up playing violent video games. They can't distinguish between their joystick and reality under stress.

During my law enforcement career of almost 3 decades, I was always taught to remove myself from harm's way, not go into it 80 mph an hour head on!

We were also strongly encouraged not to demolish state issued vehicles. And God help you if you got caught out here drag racing another cop car and get involved in a citizen fatality. It just seems like this new breed of rookie is totally out of control. And then to charge the suspect with Attempted Capital Murder just because the trooper lost while playing "chicken" on the public highways.

my comment didn't even make the list and all I asked was if he was being paid to be the go to quote on all things law enforcement. guess I know the answer now.

Who cares what the rent a cop has to say anyway? They never changed the policy when they tazed me hands cuffed behind my back lying motionless on the ground because I was never even charged with a crime!

Deleted by moderator.

Devil, the kid hasn't been sentenced to anything yet. :)

Correct, But aren't we ALL talking about things we don't know about if we were neither involved nor there. :) If they are willing to give him the 15 then I will assume it is warranted.