Woodson's plea: I-64 shooter convicted of 14 counts

I-64 shooter Slade Woodson pleads guilty to 14 counts.
PHOTO BY LISA PROVENCE

As the indictments were read, 20-year-old Slade Woodson stood in Albemarle Circuit Court Wednesday and said "guilty" 14 times, the aftermath of a beer-fueled shooting rampage that shut down Interstate 64 and Albemarle County public schools nearly a year ago.

He was facing 28 to 150 years in jail and $900,000 in fines, although the prosecutor said that under sentencing guidelines, it's unlikely Woodson–- incarcerated since March–- will serve as much as 28 years.

Woodson had been expected to plead guilty December 3; instead, he asked for a new attorney to replace Public Defender Jim Hingeley.

At issue, Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford told Judge Cheryl Higgins, was a mandatory minimum sentence of eight years that Woodson was facing for two felony firearm charges. Lunsford dropped one of those charges, reducing the total felonies to 14 and opening the door to a three-year mandatory minimum for using a gun while committing a felony.

"I think this plea is a fair compromise that accurately reflects Mr. Woodson's desire to take responsibility," said Woodson's new lawyer, Jessica Smith, noting that her client wanted to avoid putting the victims through a trial. Appearing today in court in a tie instead of the prison garb he's worn over the past year, Woodson limited his remarks to answering simple questions from the judge.

"One of the considerations I had," said prosecutor Lunsford, explaining why she decided to accept a plea in what she called a "very provable" case, "was the number of agencies involved, bringing in the victims, the expense to the Commonwealth, and the burden on the victims."

The events that shut down a 20-mile stretch of I-64 began the evening of March 26, when Woodson and then-16-year-old Brandon Dawson drove around in Woodson's orange AMC Gremlin, a distinctive vehicle later captured on video in Waynesboro.

The two got together to work on cars, said Lunsford. They also were drinking beer and firing a .22-caliber rifle belonging to Woodson's employer and later reported stolen, Lunsford told Judge Higgins. (Having already pleaded guilty, Dawson was sentenced July 8 to six months on top of the three he'd already spent in juvenile detention.)

Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford says initially she didn't know if the shooting spree was a gang initiation or another D.C. sniper case.
PHOTO BY LISA PROVENCE

Woodson allegedly admits to a litany of targets: an electrical transformer, an occupied residence on Dry Bridge Road, the Ivy Post Office, a deer on Miller School Road, and–- launching the panic–- at a car and a truck underneath I-64 at exit 114 at Ivy. The pair then went to mile marker 107, Lunsford said, and fired from an overpass at westbound traffic, hitting three more vehicles.

Lunsford said that Woodson fired at another occupied dwelling on Greenwood Road and then drove over to Waynesboro, where he's already been sentenced to two years for firing at an occupied home, a bank, and a vehicle.

In Albemarle, the 14-felony plea consists of two counts of malicious wounding (two drivers were slightly injured), attempted malicious wounding, five counts of shooting into an occupied motor vehicle, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, three counts shooting from a motor vehicle, and two counts of firing into an occupied dwelling.

Lunsford noted that there could have been more charges for other shots taken that night, such as the Ivy Post Office and a bullet-riddled VDOT vehicle.

Woodson faces sentencing June 23.

"I am relieved this is over, and I'm relieved for the community," Lunsford said following the hearing. "I think back to those two days in March–- the schools were closed, and we didn't know if we were dealing with another D.C. sniper."

–last updated 3:02pm

23 comments

Woodson should take lessons on how to wrap a tie. Lunsford sure took it easy on him. He'll be out way too soon for what he did. He came within an inch of killing. My guess, Lunsford will ultimately regret her easy approach with Woodson.I hope I'm incorrect.

Plop. it's not over yet. You have no idea how much time the judge is going to give him yet.

Interesting though. How much time do you think he should be sentenced to?

i think 7 years would be just and appropriate. he was obviously mad or was torn in some way. 7 years is plenty of time to reflect on his actions and quell most of the public disatisfaction with the amount of time given.

Sick, I realize the sentencing is yet to come.When they bargain,plea;I start to worry they going the light route.Lunsford appears to try and calm our fears in mentioning the DC sniper case.Woodson's moves were just as serious.It was only a stroke of luck his bullets were off target.This guy doesn't look the part but he did the part.Most normal people, even drunk wouldn't do such a thing.I also think it would have been good therapy for Woodson to face those he hurt in court today.Has Woodson undergone a mental evaluation? Maybe the results are private.I sure would be interested in gaining insight with regard to what circumstances led to such an outburst. Beer contributed, but I think there is more to the story.I'm afraid, unless he gains the proper help, he will be dangerous upon release.From what I have heard, prison causes more mental dysfunction than it fixes.

So, you think 7 years in Criminal College, a/k/a prison, is going to reform him?

And if you recall, 7 years is four years longer than given to a murderer a few years back.

http://www.readthehook.com/Stories/2004/11/18/coverTheVerdictSisksFamily...

quote: "Most normal people, even drunk, wouldn’t do such a thing."

Ohh, really? What if I told you a carload of cops went down Main Street one evening shooting up the city for sport? They were normal people, and they were drunk! (true story)

Sick, No, I think the broken prison system will further damage him.That is why I think it is more likely than not, he could be more dangerous upon release. I hope he can become a normal citizen one day, but it doesn't usually happen that way,does it?.This is a sad case in that Woodson made horrible choices at a young age. I hope he can truly and permanently change his ways. I also hope he doesn't learn more bad behaviors in prison.

Sick, I don't agree THOSE COPS were normal. I'm surprised you think they are normal???

wow sick.... that is sick! (in a bad way) how long ago was this?

I can't place an exact year to the tale, but it was prior to 1970. I do know several cops that were in the car that could tell you exactly when it was. They probably have a transmission repair bill framed on the wall with the words "WHAT A STUPID THING TO HAVE DONE!" written across it in big bold black letters! :)

I want to make it very clear though, I was NOT in this car and I was not involved.

Thank God, the only casualties were traffic lights being shot out, and the vehicles transmission that took a careless discharge of the firearm into the bell housing.

Yes plop, they were normal people who finished out their police careers and are now on retirement. They, like Woodson, got drunk and did a foolish thing. Should these cops have been thrown in prison for 28 to 150 years?

The good ole days! I miss them! Let me tell you another tale. It's off topic here, but it's hilarious!

Cops used to go into the courtroom at night and turn the lights on. A cop would put the judge's black robe on and pretend to be the judge. The cops would bring in a person arrested for public intoxication. They would have a mock trial and the "judge" would sentence the drunk to life in prison!

Can you imagine being drunk enough to be arrested, and yet sober enough to still comprehend the English language and understand what's going on around you? You've just been sentenced to life in prison for being drunk in public!!!! :)

Sick, I'm not going to allow you to get away with this one. You continue to lump THOSE police officers in the "normal" catagory.I just don't believe they behaved normally.I personally know many cops who would never do such a thing.

Sick, I think the above story is funny.The one that happened in the court room :-))))

OK, have it your way! They were mentally deranged psychopaths who wore badges and uniforms so as to serve and protect the community for 30+ years each!

Come to think of it, you might be right! :)

Heard Denise Lunsford on the radio news and was disappointed. She said, basically, that for a while when the shootings were occurring that people were really scared, that it could have been another Northern Va sniper situation. HELLO!!!! IT WAS EXACTLY THAT! It was cars being shot at by a firearm. I don't know why she felt the need to minimize. But, none the less, good job to her to save the taxpayers from a trial expense and the victims from having to re-live the experience.

I don't think it's quite fair to compare Woodson with the D C Snipers.

For weeks, it was "one shot, one kill" with the D C Snipers.

Sick, I agree, I believe I first presented the same idea.

So these guys had bad aim. Just lucky nobody was killed.

Lots of differences between the DC Snipers and these knuckleheads. That is patently obvious. As for Slade, lots of questions but one point is evident: Is anybody surprised that someone from Central Virginny named Slade driving an American Motors vehicle drinking cheap beer would engage in this behavior? I think Lunsford should have pushed for community service: cleaning up spent shells at the Rivanna Shooting Club on Old Lynchburg Road would be a good start.

It is a sad day when a good young man cannot even enjoy some libation and go plinking with his privately-owned firearm. Welcome to the Gulag Albemarle!

First of all, Media Matters is not an organization "pledged to eliminate conservative talk radio." It's an organization pledged to correct the misinformation dispensed by Right-wing media outlets and pundits.

Calling Michael Savage a "Ph.D. researcher" is strecthing the definition of that term to a near Silly Putty-like distortion. Savage's doctorate is in a custom-made discipline that, apparently, nmo one else has pursued, and Savage's three political books have shown him to be anything BUT a researcher. Thanks to the footnotes he supplies, even a casual reader can see that the books are riddled with misquotes, cherrypicked information and they rely heavily on other people's work, some of which is incorrect.

Third, whether or not Savage has a radio program has absolutely nothing to do with free speech. Savage is free to step up on his soapbox, start his recording of "Dixie" and spew his filth from any street corner. The First Amendment does not, however, guarantee him the right to a nationally syndicated radio program. If that were the case, we'd all be suing Clear Channel for our three-hour time slot.

Savage is a pompous ass but I do think media matters has an agenda to squelch conservative talk rather than actually debate an issue.

Regardless of his footnotes many of his points are well taken.

Liberlais want to ease the pain while conservatives want to solve the problems. Translation: you need to break a few eggs to make an ommelette.

"Regardless of his footnotes many of his points are well taken."

That's astounding. So it doesn't matter if he lies, if he misrepresents information or if he passes on bad information from someone else without having checked it first. Many of his points are well taken.

I don't understand how his "points" can be accepted when their underlying premise is proven false. How do you accept a "point" built on a lie?

Many things that he says are rue and correct and never debated by liberals because they have no reasonable defense.

For instance in California the school cannot hand out an aspirin but a teeneger can get a state funded abortion without their parents knowledge simply by going before an aministrative judge and proclaiming that her parents would freak out.

Defend that...