I-64 teen pleads guilty

The 16-year-old Crozet boy charged with 15 counts in connection with the March 27 shooting spree that closed down Interstate 64 pleaded guilty today to eight charges in Charlottesville Albemarle Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.

Handcuffed, shackled, and wearing the standard issue blue juvenile detention garb, the teen sat alone in front of the court and looked down while his attorney, Dana Slater, conferred with Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Darby Lowe, pictured left. His mother watched him from the front bench, and supporters filled the first two rows.

The youth pleaded guilty to five counts of malicious shooting into an occupied vehicle, two counts of shooting into occupied dwellings on Greenwood Station and Dry Bridge roads, and one count of firing from a vehicle on Miller School Road.

"He has accepted responsibility for his actions," Lowe told Judge Susan Whitlock. The prosecutor asked for a deferred disposition on the three non-I-64 charges pending a psychiatric evaluation, good behavior, and continued cooperation with the Commonwealth.

It's the latter that should give his alleged partner in crime, Batesville resident Slade Woodson, 19, pause. Woodson's attorney, Public Defender Jim Hingeley, was present in juvenile court today, and Woodson has a preliminary hearing scheduled May 15. At worst, the 16-year-old is looking at detention until his 21st birthday, while Woodson's 15 felonies in Albemarle and four in Waynesboro could put him away for the rest of his life.

The Commonwealth dropped seven other charges against the 16-year-old, who acknowledged being present at all the incidents, but "not being the shooter in every instance," says Lowe.

"The young man and his family believe in being truthful," said Slater, explaining why the boy took a plea agreement. "This young man is very aware of the seriousness of the statutes, and he's very aware of the fear and concern of the citizens."

The boy will be back in court May 28. "Sentencing will be decided by the judge," said Lowe. She declined to comment about what sort of sentencing she'd like to see.

"I'm glad he pled guilty," said Lowe. "He accepted responsibility, and the victims don't have to testify," although they will have a chance to make impact statements.

Tim Fitzgerald, driving his red Ford Explorer on I-64 that night, is one of those victims, and he sat in the back of the court today. Afterward, he told reporters that at first wasn't sure he wanted the teen to be tried as a juvenile rather than an adult, but after seeing him in court, realized he was just a kid.
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7 comments

Will the parents of the boy be made to pay for associated costs-damages? What was the parental role, as far as supervision goes, on this evening? Kids of this age need and deserve appropriate oversight by responsible adults.
The financial costs for this crime are huge. Seems the family should be asked to contribute.
Was this boy's care as a minor neglected in any manner? If so, someone else should also be charged.
The bottom line, taxpayers should not have to bear all the costs for this crime.

Ideally, we would build a pillory in Court Square, insert the parents, and toss rotten vegetables and invectives at them. Parents like deserve old-school public shame.

Alright Josephus,
In the view of many, your take here, is exactly why we have many of the problems we currently have with some young people in local society. Are you suggesting parents have no responsibility as to their minor child's "breaking of the law"?
My God, this happened in the middle of the night/late hours, etc. This was "sleepy time" for a kid that age. Where was the responsible adult in this case?
Go ahead, enable them or maybe set up a relief fund to pay their expenses.
Seems to me the parents being required to pay for certain damages in the case, may offer other parents an incentive to be more mindful of their kid's comings and goings in the night.
Funny how folks like you "turn around or slant" a suggestion for wise parental accountability.
The kid should also be required to work off some of the cost, while in detention.

Josephus, I'm assuming you were not serious in your comment!

It's a little too late for this kid to appear as an innocent choir boy, and as the lawyers seem to be trying to steer public opinion with comment. The kid could just as easily have killed someone.
The public deserves to hear something of this kid's history or style of upbringing. If his needs were neglected, the facts should come out and others involved should be held accountable. Lessons should be gained from this serious situation. The public should be advised if there is available knowledge that could prevent a similar situation in the future.
If lack of proper supervision for this kid was ever a factor, the truth needs to be told.

#9,
It bothers me that you identify yourself as a "teacher" because it is so rare that educators ever give credit to parents for the high achieving kids who contribute so much to our community. BUT it is not so uncommon to have educators blame parents completely when a child runs amuck.
Don't get me wrong- I am a parent in a dull household where it is quite unlikely a teen could sneak out without waking a parent- unlikely, and as far as I know it has never happened, but perhaps not completely impossible.
The tenor of your comments, #9, make me wonder if you have had the experience of being a parent. I have known a number of teacher offspring over the years and have noticed that they are not any better cared for than the children of parents of other professions.

Gail, Let me reassure you, As a teacher, I always give credit to deserving/responsible parents and their worthy offspring. I do feel a child's ultimate success in life can usually be directly linked to wise parental guidance "all along the way", and in the home. I'm happy to hear you properly supervise your own children in the home. This is your duty as a parent.
Sadly, there are those parents who do not provide adequate supervision for their own children. It makes no difference what profession one has. I have seen highly educated parents who are unable to parent. I also agree, not all teachers are good parents.
This teen was obviously out very late shooting up the town. Isn't it normal to question what the circumstances were, for his "home care" on this night?