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May 6, 2003

Confusion with sibling’s identity twists DUI case

ROY LEE EVERETT MAY HAVE POSED AS HIS BROTHER DURING A DRUNKEN-DRIVING ARREST IN VIRGINIA BEACH LATE LAST YEAR

Author: MATTHEW ROY AND BILL BURKE THE

Roy Lee Everett, who was charged with driving under the influence in last week’s crash that killed a teen in Norfolk, may have posed as his brother during a drunken-driving arrest in Virginia Beach late last year, possibly avoiding a mandatory one-year jail term.

Police are investigating whether Everett, who has three DUI convictions in Virginia Beach, falsely gave police his brother’s name during an Oct. 16 traffic stop at South Independence Boulevard and Dahlia Drive.

If Everett had been convicted of the October DUI, he likely would not have been driving a pickup truck that collided on May 6 with a Honda Civic, fatally injuring 16-year-old Landon W. Chambers. As a four-time DUI offender, Everett would have faced a year behind bars with no time suspended.

The driver in the October case, who identified himself as Billy Wilson Everett, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.13, court records show. Virginia’s legal limit is 0.08.

When the real Billy Everett went to court following the October DUI stop, the arresting officer said he was not the man he had ticketed and the charges were withdrawn.

The driver may in fact have been Roy Lee Everett, who impersonated his brother last year when he was stopped for speeding in Norfolk, according to court records and police.

A Virginia Beach police captain says the officer who arrested “Billy W. Everett” for DUI recognized Roy Everett as the actual driver when his photo appeared in the newspaper last week.

An expert handwriting analyst also says it is “highly probable” that Roy Everett signed Billy’s name to court documents after the arrest, based on an examination of those documents and known signatures of the brothers.

Michael Goodove, an attorney who is president of the Southside Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, called the revelation that Roy Everett may have dodged a fourth DUI offense “amazing.”

“It just blows my mind,” he said. “In an information age with computer records as accessible as they are, it is shocking to us this person was not dealt with more appropriately.”

He said Virginia’s penalty for a fourth DUI offense could have saved an innocent victim.

Roy Lee Everett’s attorney, Bobby L. Howlett Jr., did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Court records show the driver in the October Virginia Beach DUI case was operating a 1997 Dodge van that night. It is not apparent from records why the man was stopped. Officer D.C. Meeks charged the driver, “Billy Everett,” with DUI and he was freed on $1,200 bond.

Billy Everett didn’t appear for the initial Nov. 6 court date, records show, and a judge issued an order for him to appear. He turned himself in. At the time, he told a magistrate that he was never given that ticket, court records say.

When Billy Everett’s case was called in General District Court on Dec. 3, Meeks was there. The charges were withdrawn. A two-word explanation appears in the court record: “Wrong person.”

Attempts to get comment from Billy Everett were unsuccessful.

Now, Virginia Beach police are investigating if Roy Everett posed as his brother.

Last week, after the collision in which Chambers died received extensive media coverage, Meeks saw Everett’s photograph in the newspaper, said Beach police Capt. Ray Eisenberg.

“He realized this was the guy he originally arrested in October,” Eisenberg said.

Roy Everett has not been charged in the case, but the matter is under investigation and will be taken to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, Eisenberg said.

If Roy Everett is charged with posing as his brother, it won’t be the first time. Court records show that Roy Everett passed himself off as Billy Everett after he was stopped for speeding on North Military Highway in Norfolk earlier last year.

At 3:55 a.m. on April 21, Norfolk police Officer R.C. Cook wrote two tickets to a man driving a 1994 Mercedes. The man identified himself as Billy W. Everett. Cook charged him with driving 67 mph in a 45 mph zone and driving without a license.

“He had memorized all his brother’s information,” said Norfolk police spokesman Chris Amos. “He had no ID.”

Cook was suspicious, Amos said, and had the man roll his thumb in ink and mark the summonses with his thumbprint.

Roy Everett later contacted the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office and admitted what he had done, Amos said.

The charges against Billy Everett were withdrawn. Cook wrote new summonses charging Roy Everett with speeding and driving while license is suspended or revoked, court records show. Cook also charged Roy Everett with assuming a false name – Billy Everett’s.

Roy Everett was convicted of the charges and was fined a total of $125, plus court costs, court records show. He also received a 60-day suspended sentence, according to online court records.

Though lacking a valid license, Roy Everett continued to drive, authorities contend. He was arrested April 14 in Norfolk and was charged with DUI. Magistrate J.D. Bullock Jr. set his bail at $1,000 and he was freed within hours. That case is pending in court.

On May 6, authorities charge, Everett was at the wheel of a pickup truck that ran a red light on Azalea Garden Road and headed into the path of a Honda Civic on North Military Highway in Norfolk. The impact flipped the pickup on its side and crumpled the Honda, injuring the Chambers brothers. Landon Chambers died hours later.

Police and witnesses say Everett crawled out of the pickup’s rear window and ran. Citizens cornered and detained him nearby. He has been charged with DUI and two counts of leaving the scene of an accident, all felonies, as well as running a red light and eight other traffic offenses.

His bond on the April 14 DUI has been revoked, and he is being held without bond on the new charges.

When Virginia Beach Officer Meeks pulled the Dodge van over last Oct. 16, there’s a strong likelihood Roy Everett was driving, according to Lawrence W. Farmer.

Farmer, a Virginia Beach document examiner who once headed Norfolk’s Secret Service office, has been analyzing handwriting in criminal and civil cases for nearly 50 years. He has provided expert analysis in several notable cases, including a Portsmouth mayor suspected of authoring hate mail and a Virginia Beach high school basketball coach who scrawled racist graffiti at the school.

The Virginian-Pilot hired Farmer to analyze the signatures.

Farmer’s conclusion in the Everett case is based on comparisons he made of undisputed signatures of both Everett brothers with two “Billy Everett” signatures that appear on a bail bond form in Virginia Beach. That form was signed by the person arrested on the October DUI charge.

Farmer, who has testified in hundreds of court cases since 1954, said certain distinctive features of the questionable signatures match features of Roy Everett’s known signatures.

In both cases, the author “writes the letters close together, with little or no connecting space between letters,” Farmer said.

Also, the letter “y” in the names Billy and Roy are strikingly similar, he said. “The `cup’ of the `y’ in both cases is deep, with the downstroke and upstroke very close together,” he said. “The last stroke of the y in both cases is headed to the first `E’ in Everett.”

He also noted that the capital “E” in Everett loops across the following “v” in both signatures.

One of the most distinctive similarities, he said, is the way the second “e” and following “r” in Everett are written in a way that appears to form the letter “o,” a feature Farmer said he had never seen before in thousands of handwriting samples.

Farmer said he assigns a value to each distinctive feature. He said that based on his analysis, “I would be willing to testify in court that it is highly probable the same person who signed the name Roy Everett also signed Billy’s name.”

Reach Matthew Roy at mroy(AT)pilotonline.com or 446-2540.

Reach Bill Burke at bill.burke(AT)pilotonline.com or 446-2589.

Caption:
Color photo
THE DEFENDANT: Roy Lee Everett was charged with driving under the
influence in a crash that fatally injured 16-year-old Landon W.
Chambers on May 6. Above, Everett is shown in court on May 13.
THE SIGNATURES: Lawrence W. Farmer, a Virginia Beach document
examiner and expert handwriting analyst, says it is “highly
probable” that Roy Everett signed Billy’s name to court documents
after the arrest, based on an examination of those documents and
known signatures of the brothers, shown above.
Photo
Landon W. Chambers, 16, died as a result of a traffic accident in
which he and his brother were struck by a pickup truck on Military
Highway.

Copyright (c) 2003 The Virginian-Pilot
Record Number: 0305160085