15 years: Magnitude of I-64 rampage weighs in sentence

news-woodson-cropI-64 shooter Slade Woodson listens to testimony in court Tuesday.

"If you were a monster, this would be easier," said Judge Cheryl Higgins before pronouncing sentence on the teen who terrorized two counties for two days last year, closing Interstate 64 for six hours and Albemarle County schools on March 27, 2008.

"I'd like to apologize to all the people affected by this," said Slade Woodson, 20, in Albemarle Circuit Court June 23 before Higgins sentenced him. "There's no reason to justify what I did. If I could take it all back I would... I do take full responsibility for my actions."

Still, Woodson appeared stunned after Higgins gave him 15 years. His attorney had suggested 8 to 10 years; Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford requested 20 years. On the 14 counts Woodson faced, a maximum sentence could have put him away for 150 years.

Initiially, said Lunsford, police didn't know if they were dealing with a gang initiation or another DC sniper. "I felt like with what happened to this community, 20 years were appropriate," she said. "Mr. Woodson has a lot of support in the community. But it's important for the community to see a substantial sentence and a deterrent."

"I think he's taking it hard right now," said defense attorney Jessica Smith. "You try to be prepared, but when you hear what the next 15 years of your life are gong to be... He's been wanting to know what the sentence is and get on with his life."

Smith noted that while incarcerated, Woodson has gotten his GED, is taking Bible classes, tutors inmates in English as a Second Language classes, and had an array of family and friends testify that he's a polite, hardworking young man– and that they had no idea of the severity of his alcohol problem.

And it was alcohol that fueled the events that started the evening of March 26, 2008. At that time, according to clinical psychologist Jeffrey Aaron, Woodson was drinking two to three six-packs a day. On the night of the shooting spree, Aaron estimates Woodson could have had 20 or more beers, and was highly functional consuming that amount of alcohol.

"Slade also described to me engaging in an extremely dangerous pattern of behavior," said Aaron. Drinking, mud bogging, driving around shooting at signs, and spotlighting deer were typical activities for Woodson, said the psychologist.

"This night was like any other," he said.

Judge Higgins questioned Woodson's awareness that night, noting that he was aware enough to go to Wal-Mart for more ammo before shooting at a house in Waynesboro, and was aware I-64 would be under investigation after the shootings and took another route home through Greene County in his orange AMC Gremlin, which died just inside the northern border of Albemarle County.

"I find it hard to believe he doesn't make a distinction between shooting a sign or deer and a car with people in it on the interstate," said Higgins.

"I would distinguish awareness from judgment," said Aaron.

Earlier in court, a former inmate who shared a cell with Woodson at Middle River Regional Jail testified.

“He told me he did stupid things when he got drunk,” said Matthew Kurdziolek, “He told me he wanted to kill somebody that night.”

Woodson, then 19, and Brandon Dawson, 15, fired into five cars on I-64, injuring two people, and into two occupied residences in Albemarle, as well as one in Waynesboro.

The two even had a plan, according to the inmate, that exploited Dawson’s status as a minor. “They knew the juvenile wouldn’t do any time,” said Kurdziolek, who was clad in striped prison attire. “If they got caught, Dawson would say he did it.”

Dawson was released in May after a little more than a year in juvenile detention.

Before the lunch break of the June 23 hearing, two victims of the shooting spree also testified. Domenico D’Auria told how his family was sleeping in its Greenwood Station house when a bullet suddenly tore through the walls. Since the incident, his four-year-old son, who was in the shot-up front room, can’t sleep alone.

Julia Diggs revealed how she was on her way home from her General Electric job westbound on I-64 when she passed under Greenwood Station Road/Route 690. She said she saw some lights flashing on the overpass.

“I heard a bang hit the roof of my car,” she testified. “I was was not sure what was going on, but my back started burning.”

Although not seriously injured, the woman told the court she continues to feel unsafe driving at night, and now works during the day.

Woodson also was ordered to pay more than $12,000 in restitution to the victims.



Drunk Driving in Virginia is 0.08

20 beers in a 6 hour time period would put a 180 pound male "frequent drinker" at an 0.36 blood alcohol content.

20 beers in a 9 hour time period would put a 180 pound male "frequent drinker" at an 0.296 blood alcohol content.

20 beers in a 12 hour time period would put a 180 pound male "frequent drinker" at an 0.236 blood alcohol content.

BAC Chart Values
.00 - .05 - Normal behavior, no impairment, mostly sober

.05 - .10 - Possibly buzzed, euphoria, lessened inhibitions

(.08 drunk driving in Virginia)

.10 - .15 - Lightly drunk, feeling good, smiling

.15 - .20 - Definitely drunk, possibly an upset stomach

.20 - .30 - Confused, nauseated, feels bad

.30 - .35 - Throwing up, passing out, falling over

.35 - .40 - Way too drunk, coma

Anything over .40 - Way, way too drunk � possible death

Sadly, this young man should have received some form of treatment or rehabilitation??!! I understand that this was behavior that could have took someone's life, however sticking in jail with career criminals and the like will not help him. Our judicial system as well as our prison systems are flawed. If he has an alcohol problem, he needs treatment! And by the way Sue check the BAC percentages today, they have graduated to a whole new level, some people can fuction normally, with more than 20 beers.

Big goings on back in C-ville last year. I was stationed in Korea and heard about this an hour or two after it was on the national news. Sounds like some kids out having some extremely dumb fun to me. Luckily no one was physically hurt so I think he got what was coming to him. Unless I missed it I didn't see anything about if/ when he would come up for parole. Oh, and Sue, twenty beers and still functioning ain't as uncommon as you would think.

"Aaron estimates Woodson could have had 20 or more beers, and was highly functional consuming that amount of alcohol." I find this hard to believe

15 years seems like a lot. I agree with Vic, rehabilitation. I would say 5 years in jail to mature and intense training so when the boy is a man he can get a job. 15 years in prison costs the taxpayer $750,000. Regardless of the sanctimonious 19 is naturally wreckless. I know wreckless does not go to this extreme, but wreckless does not normally get noticed, let alone media coverage that this did merit. I am nearly 50, I started drinking when I was 13 and been a successful moderate alcoholic ever since. 20 beers would put me out and I am 250 pounds. I would be asleep at 15 and a slice of pizza.

Sue - MikeM & Mike Wiszowski are correct about the 20 beers & high alcohol levels - and some people who are more prone to alcoholism through heredity can function when "going through the motions", like driving - but not making good judgment calls - - whatthafudge - I think he was stunned (not shocked) is not PROOF that he was not remorseful - on the contrary - if as he said he never meant to harm anyone - and was trying to prove himself with whatever means he had while in jail - instead of twiddling his thumbs and crying about it for 15 months - yeah the 15 years might be a shock - not a sign of not being remorseful. Vic C - I went onto the internet and checked his case files - he had documented issues with drinking and driving - I checked a little further - the Commonwealth sent him to a class and took his money 3 times - but never did any kind of follow-up like testing for alcohol on a regular basis - and in all cases - he had a high alcohol level. Virginia has wine trails and now beer trails and is not reaping what it is sowing when it comes to alcohol and its impact on our youth. George - I think you are right on. To take someone who has potential (is young and not a lost cause) lock him up for 15 years with career criminals, and then expect him to be "stronger for it" down the road is not serving the community. Lunsford said - according to this article - that "Woodson has a lot of support in the community. But it’s important for the community to see a substantial sentence and a deterrent.” So is it not going to be just as important to the community when he is released after 15 years in prison. Why not 5 years, and then pay to be tested on a regular basis for 5-10 years. And how about Community Service for 5 years. I don't know the cost of housing an inmate for 15 years, but my vote would be to have him serve 5-10, do community service, be tested and attend AA for 5-10, and know that any mess-ups would send him right back up the road. As for the inmate who testified against him, I heard he spent 10 minutes stumbling over his own testimony & admitted to pestering Woodson for days because he wanted to know what happened. And lastly the supposed plan: . . according to the inmate, . ââ?¬Å?They knew the juvenile wouldn’t do any time,” said Kurdziolek, . . ââ?¬Å?If they got caught, Dawson would say he did it.” It seems funny to me from an article I recall back when this all first hit the news, that when Woodson was arrested and asked "who was with you" he said "I was alone" and now the other boy is out and about. Sure doesn't sound like he blamed it all on the younger guy. I read a blog following the Daily Progress article that said: ââ?¬Å?Seems to me the system is one sided.” My personal take on this. A person’s life cannot be summed up in a 6-8 hour court hearing much less a few paragraphs of news print. The Psych Report given by Aaron was submitted because Woodson chose to offer the court all the truth - even his worst admissions to the doctor. He could have kept it to himself. Seems he wasn't trying to hide anything. Seems he knew he had a problem and was asking for help and understanding ââ?¬â?? along with his sentencing. Maybe he should have sought help earlier. Dont't most 19 year olds - like seasoned adults - admit they have a substance abuse problem and seek help? I think not!

In the Daily Progress article dated Tuesday, July 7, 2009 - following article & under Reader Reactions - Chevy wrote: Was he asked from what store he was able to purchase the beer that night? That’s alot of the problem the ID is not being checked for young people like it should be. " I have spoken with my teenage children about this and been told that from Waynesboro to Charlottesville they can go to any one of a half dozen placed to buy beer - without a problem. If you check Woodson's records - on 2 occasions he was charged with "possession of alcohol". You would have thought the state/county would have restricted his license and/or tested him on a regular basis. - - Chevy also wrote: "One person gets 180 days the other person 15 years. There’s something wrong here somewhere. The paper said they both were shooting. The 16 year old had to know what he was doing. I can’t imagine what his parents thought he was doing all night long. To me the 16 year old should have been given more time than 180 days. That’s my opinion, everyone has one.

Come on everybody...plenty of people overdo alcohol and or drugs (intentionally or not),and have no intention of hurting others for kicks when intoxicated.
Second, the fact that he was shocked by the sentencing is proof that he has no remorse for his actions whatsoever; if he felt genuine guilt he would have been expecting that the harshest sentence might have been inevitable and would have comprehended the depth of his actions against others and be willing to accept his punishment.
Third, 19 is barely juvenile.
Age determinations are put in place by the penal system to balance the the many foolish crimes committed by mostly young men so that those types of crimes aren't punished too harshly.
Woodson's crime wasn't foolish or innocently reckless- it was premeditated and targeted innocent citizens who were unaware of any impending danger to them!

Hey Sick,

there are cases worldwide of people with a BAC of .3 and up. http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2005/01/04/drunk-bulgarian-050104.html