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Archive 2003 STS&G News Goodove in the News Virginian-Pilot

JUDGE GIVES MAN 10 YEARS IN DRUNKEN-DRIVING DEATH

Virginian-Pilot, The (Norfolk, VA)

Author: JON FRANK THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT

A 50-year-old man who was driving drunk in November when he killed the father of two children was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison.

Steven V. Arcese has been in custody since the Nov. 3 accident that killed 26-year-old David C. Fisher.

The accident occurred near London Bridge and Dam Neck roads, where Arcese’s Audi station wagon crashed head-on with Fisher’s Chevrolet Cavalier. Fisher’s two children were passengers in the car but were not seriously injured.

In April, Arcese pleaded guilty to second-offense driving under the influence and aggravated involuntary manslaughter. He faced up to 21 years in prison.

In court Tuesday, Arcese told Fisher’s family: “In no way, on that horrible night in November, did I intend to cause that accident. I am sorry, I am sorry, I am sorry.”

Circuit Judge Thomas S. Shadrick began to cry as he expressed sympathy to Fisher’s family shortly before issuing the sentence.

Shadrick gave Arcese the maximum 21 years but suspended all but 10.

Arcese will be on supervised probation after his release, with another 11 years in prison possible if he misbehaves during that time, Shadrick said.

Shadrick said harsher sentences likely are ahead for repeat offenders who drink and drive and hurt others. But, Shadrick said, until the law changes, he is obligated to stay close to state-mandated guidelines.

The maximum sentence recommended for Arcese by state guidelines was about 9.5 years in prison, Shadrick said.

The judge said he exceeded the guidelines a little to “make a statement, because the guidelines are a little low.”

Jim Fisher, the victim’s father, who has become an advocate for stiffer drunken-driving sentences, said he was satisfied with the time Arcese will serve in prison.

“This is a start,” Fisher said. “It is higher than the guidelines and that is all we were hoping for.”

Fisher said he hopes the decision to keep Arcese locked up without bond until sentencing will set the standard for others charged with second-offense DUI and higher.

The public outcry against drunken drivers has intensified in recent months after a rash of fatal DUI accidents.

In Norfolk recently, police say a repeat DUI offender killed a Lake Taylor High School student after a magistrate allowed him out of jail on a $1,000 bond on a previous DUI charge.

After the sentencing, Moody E. “Sonny” Stallings, one of two attorneys who represented Arcese, said he was “prepared for a little worse” because attitudes against drunken drivers are changing rapidly.

Much of the change stems from public reaction to the Arcese case and other recent fatal DUI crashes.

“The community is talking about this case,” Stallings said, especially at the Oceanfront, where Arcese is a well-known resident.

People are starting to realize when they are out drinking, they should “get a cab, call a friend or walk, because this kind of tragedy will be repeated again,” Stallings said.

Michael L. Goodove, a Norfolk lawyer and president of the local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said he would have preferred a longer sentence for Arcese.

“I think more time would have sent a stronger message to the community,” Goodove said. “and kept an habitual offender off the roads.”

Reach Jon Frank at 222-5122 or jon.frank(AT)pilotonline.com

Caption:
Color Photo
Steven V. Arcese, 50, faced 21 years, but the judge suspended all
but 10.
Photo
David C. Fisher, 26, was killed in a drunken-driving accident Nov.
3. in Virginia Beach.

Copyright (c) 2003 The Virginian-Pilot
Record Number: 0307020146

Categories
Archive 2003 STS&G News Goodove in the News Virginian-Pilot

VICTIM’S FAMILY FILES THREE LAWSUITS AGAINST MOTORIST IN FATAL CAR ACCIDENT

Author: JON FRANK THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT

Three lawsuits have been filed in Virginia Beach Circuit Court against a motorist who is accused of being drunk when he ran a red light and killed a 26-year-old father of two in November.

Steven C. Arcese, 50, had more than twice the legal limit of alcohol in his blood on Nov. 3, according to recent court testimony in the criminal case against Arcese. His Audi station wagon crashed head-on into a 1991 Chevrolet Cavalier driven by David C. Fisher.

Fisher died early the following morning from his injuries. His children, ages 3 and 6 months, suffered superficial injuries and have recovered.

Fisher was on the way to pick up his wife from her job at Wal-Mart in the couple’s only car when the accident occurred about 11:30 p.m. at the intersection of London Bridge and Dam Neck roads.

Arcese had a blood-alcohol level of 0.23 hours after the accident, police said. The legal limit in Virginia is 0.08.

The lawsuits were filed on behalf of Fisher’s wife, Mandi Rose Fisher, and the children.

One of the lawsuits was filed in February. The other two were filed Monday.

The lawsuits allege that Arcese was drunk and speeding, failed to keep a proper outlook, failed to keep his vehicle under proper control and did not obey traffic signals.

Each of the lawsuits asks for compensatory damages of $5 million and punitive damages of $5 million.

Michael L. Goodove, the attorney who filed the suits, said the children were traumatized by the accident.

Arcese is being held without bond in the Virginia Beach city jail. He is scheduled to stand trial April 23 on charges of aggravated involuntary manslaughter, driving under the influence and refusal to take a blood-alcohol test.

The maximum penalty for aggravated involuntary manslaughter is 20 years.

Reach Jon Frank at 446-2277 or jfrank(AT)pilotonline.com

Caption:
Lawsuits filed by the family of David C. Fisher, who
died after a car ran into his, seek a total of $30 million in
punitive and compensatory damages.

Copyright (c) 2003 The Virginian-Pilot
Record Number: 0304130093

Categories
Archive 2003 STS&G News Goodove in the News Virginian-Pilot

BEACH NIGHTCLUB SUED OVER WRECK THAT KILLED 4 SUIT : PEABODY’S RESPONSIBLE FOR DRUNKEN DRIVER

Virginian-Pilot, The (Norfolk, VA)

Author: JON FRANK THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT

Three lawsuits stemming from a deadly highway collision in 2001 were filed Thursday against Peabody’s, a popular Oceanfront nightclub where the driver responsible for the wreck had been drinking.

Enrique Lopez, a 21-year-old sailor serving aboard the carrier George Washington, was driving his Ford Mustang the wrong way on Interstate 264 on May 11, 2001, when he slammed into another vehicle that was traveling in the opposite direction.

Three women in the other car – including 19-year-old Debra Van Sickle, an expectant mother – were killed. Lopez also died.

The lawsuits seek a total of $36.05 million in damages and attempt to hold Peabody’s responsible for contributing to the accident.

Andrew M. Sacks, the Norfolk lawyer who filed the lawsuits in Virginia Beach Circuit Court, said during a news conference Thursday that Peabody’s employees threw Lopez out of the club because he was extremely drunk and had become disorderly.

The lawsuits maintain that once employees “took control” of Lopez, Sacks said, they should have turned him over to authorities.

“The crux of this is that once they observed him, they took immediate steps,” Sacks said. “But they failed to complete that duty.”

Sacks said the club took the attitude that “as long as he is not a problem to us, we don’t care what he does.”

Virginia is one of the few states without “Dram Shop” legislation, which holds bars and restaurants responsible for serving alcohol to customers who then commit crimes or cause accidents. The absence of such legislation shields many businesses in Virginia’s tourism and restaurant industries from lawsuits.

Michael L. Goodove, a Norfolk lawyer who is president of the local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said at Thursday’s news conference that the lobby representing the state’s restaurants and bars has successfully fought to keep “dram shop” legislation from getting out of committees in Richmond.

He said 44 states have such laws and that Sacks’ suits address the vacuum by creating for bars an area of “special responsibility that is a long time in coming.”

The lawsuits do not allege that Peabody’s was negligent in serving Lopez, Sacks said. Instead, they argue that Peabody’s failed to protect the public from “carnage” caused by someone the club took control of and then released “into the stream of humanity.”

Lopez had a blood-alcohol level of 0.27 at the time of the accident, well above Virginia’s legal limit of 0.08, according to police. He also is named in the lawsuits as a defendant.

Richard H. Doummar, the Virginia Beach lawyer who represents the nightclub, said Thursday that although the situation was tragic, “Peabody’s did everything they could as required by the law to do the right thing.”

Peabody’s is at 21st Street and Pacific Avenue. Doummar said the nightclub already has been cleared by the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

“It is just a tough situation dealing with someone who is intoxicated,” Doummar said.

Two of the lawsuits were filed on behalf of 24-year-old Earl A. Sanders IV.

Sanders’ mother, Shirley J. Vinson, 44, was killed in the accident, as was his fiancee, 30-year-old Beverley S. Carter.

A suit in Vinson’s name asks for $15.35 million. The one for Carter asks for $5.35 million.

The third suit, which also asks for $15.35 million, was filed on behalf of Henry Sanders, who was injured in the crash. Sanders now lives in Fort Worth, Texas, and still suffers from his injuries, Sacks said.

Van Sickle’s survivors are represented by Virginia Beach attorney William R. “Buster” O’Brien, who said he filed a suit against Lopez last year. He did not name Peabody’s as a defendant.

Van Sickle was on the way to the hospital at the time of the accident to possibly deliver her baby.

Reach Jon Frank at jfrank(AT)pilotonline.com or 446-2277.

Caption:
Color Photo
Earl A. Sanders IV, foreground, fields reporters’ questions as his
attorney, Andrew Sacks, listens in the lawyer’s Norfolk office
during a news conference Thursday. Photos
MORT FRYMAN/THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT FILE PHOTO
Debra Van Sickle, Shirley J. Vinson and Beverley S. Carter were
killed when the car they were riding in, above, was struck by a
Mustang driven by Enrique Lopez in May 2001. Lopez also died.
Enrique Lopez, a sailor serving on the carrier George Washington,
was killed in May 2001.

Copyright (c) 2003 The Virginian-Pilot
Record Number: 0303070101

Categories
Archive 1998 STS&G News Goodove in the News Virginian-Pilot

BEACH PUTS BRAKES ON POLICE CHASES NOW OFFICERS CAN’T PURSUE NON-VIOLENT FLEEING CRIMINAL

Police Chief Charles R. Wall has banned all police pursuits in the city except for cases involving violent felons armed with guns.

The order, effective immediately, could eliminate nearly all police chases using motor vehicles, officers said Thursday. Police officers can no longer pursue drunken drivers, car thieves, burglars or other non-violent criminals who flee, according to the new order.

The June 2 memo from Wall was distributed to officers Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Some officers still had not seen the memo as of late Thursday. A copy was given to The Virginian-Pilot.

No other Hampton Roads jurisdiction has such a strict pursuit policy. The new order will affect other jurisdictions that chase fleeing motorists into Virginia Beach. Wall said those officers will be allowed to continue a hot pursuit in Virginia Beach, but they would not get help from his department’s officers unless the pursuit was justified under the new criteria.

The order is an interim step. Department officials are rewriting the pursuit policy, and the city’s officers will be given a chance to comment on a draft of the proposed orders. But Wall said he expects the final orders to be similar to the interim policy.

The new order is a sharp departure from the former policy, which allowed officers discretion as to when to begin a pursuit. The Police Department has in recent years allowed officers more latitude to aggressively halt fleeing motorists. Officers have been trained to use tire-deflating spikes and to box in fleeing vehicles with rolling roadblocks.

Also, a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision made it very difficult for citizens to sue police in federal court for damages or injuries resulting from pursuits.

Wall said it was the safety of the community, and not the Supreme Court decision, that guided him.

“I am very concerned, as you should be, about the dangers inherent in police pursuits of vehicles,” Wall said in the memo. “The conflict between our efforts to protect the lives of citizens . . . and engaging in high-speed pursuits through city streets should be obvious.”

The new order will allow a pursuit only when an officer believes a car’s occupant or occupants have used a gun or a bomb to commit, or to try to commit, a violent felony.

“All other pursuits are prohibited,” the memo said.

Wall said Thursday the decision to curtail pursuits wasn’t taken lightly. He and others studied the pursuit policies of jurisdictions in at least seven states. They also consulted with national experts on police pursuits.

The chief said, after the review, he and his staff determined a more restrictive policy will be safer for the public and the police officers.

The new rules come against a backdrop of several controversial police pursuits in Virginia Beach, including some that have killed innocent people.

On Jan. 21, 1995, a drunken driver eluded police for 15 miles before the van he was driving slammed into a sports car in Norfolk and killed two people. Although state police had taken over the pursuit, the chase started in Virginia Beach. That chase would not be allowed now.

On March 25, 1997, Bruce V. Quagliato led police on a low-speed pursuit that ended when his car and at least two police cars collided on Independence Boulevard. He died after several police officers shot him, thinking he was armed. He wasn’t.

Twice in 1997, motorcyclists being chased for traffic or equipment infractions died after crashing at high speeds. Neither pursuit would be allowed now.

On Feb. 6, police said a 14-year-old girl was driving a stolen car when she sped from a police officer on Shore Drive. She and a companion survived a crash that killed an innocent motorist, 56-year-old Michael Boynton, a retired Navy SEAL and war hero. That pursuit would not be allowed today.

On March 14, five teen-agers in a stolen car crashed after trying to elude police. The car’s driver and one passenger, both 14, died. That pursuit would not be allowed today.

“We considered (these crashes) and we considered the danger to our officers,” Wall said. “We have looked at this for quite a while.”

Mary Boynton, wife of the man killed by the 14-year-old car thief, said Thursday she never blamed the police because they were doing their job. She said she instead blames the teen-agers who stole a car and killed her husband.

The new policy drew mixed reactions.

“I think it is great. It is something they should’ve done a long time ago,” said attorney Jim McKenry, who represents Quagliato’s family. Quagliato was shot to death at the end of a police pursuit when he refused to comply with officers’ orders. Under a strict interpretation of the new policy, a similar pursuit would not be initiated now.

His client “would still be alive and well,” McKenry said. Quagliato’s family is suing the city for $5 million.

But Mike Goodove, president of Southside MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said he is concerned about any policy that could hamper police from aggressive DUI enforcement. Under this policy, police can’t chase a drunken driver who flees.

“The Virginia Beach Police Department should first of all be applauded for its efforts to combat impaired driving,” he said. “We would certainly interpret impaired driving as a violent offense because of the potential injuries and death the drunk driver would cause. Because an impaired driver poses a serious threat to others on the roadway, the proposed policy change to ban pursuits, with respect to drunk driving, gives us some concern.

“We are confident that the Virginia Beach police department will allow its officers to remove impaired drivers from the roadway while protecting the safety of those on the road,” Goodove said.

Lillian DeVenny, state president of Virginians Opposing Drunk Driving, said she can see both sides of the issue. An advocate for stringent police enforcement of DUI, she also knows a family whose son was killed in a police pursuit.

“In a way, (the new policy) angers me, but I have had ambivalent feelings on that matter for quite some time,” she said. “I feel the police officers have been doing their jobs as best as they can, but when I look at the other side of the coin, and see the victims of pursuits, I have second thoughts.”

The city’s new policy represents exactly the kinds of police guidelines that Wyoming-based STOPP, or Solutions to Tragedies of Police Pursuit, lobbies for. That group studies police pursuits and ways to reduce them.

“That is wonderful,” said STOPP’s Jeff Maceiko of the Virginia Beach policy. “We don’t want them to ban all pursuits, per se, but we do want to ban all except for the pursuits of violent felons. This exactly what we want.”

Several police officers contacted Thursday said the new policy will limit their effectiveness, and it may cause more motorists to run because they know the police won’t chase. They said drunken drivers, unlicensed drivers and other criminals would probably take the chance to escape. Many officers said only law-abiding drivers would stop for them now.

Wall said he doesn’t think that will happen.

“Every place we have looked that has similar policies, we found that simply has not been the case,” Wall said. “They reported that was not the result.”

Before Thursday, the decision to chase a suspect was left to the individual officer. The officer would have to consider, among other things, the risks involved, the severity of the offense, and the possibility of catching the motorist at a later time. Now, most of that discretion is eliminated.

“While none of us likes the thought of letting someone go who has committed a violation and compounded that by fleeing when we signal them to stop,” the memo said, “the overriding factor guiding all of our actions must be our concern for the safety of the officers involved and the citizens of the community, as well as the violators themselves.”

One of the city’s police-union representatives, Officer Bobby Mathieson, said his organization doesn’t yet have an opinion on the new policy.

“We welcome the public input on this,” he said. “The public should be a big part of this, to see if they support (the new rules), or if they don’t.”

Although the Supreme Court has granted police departments more protection, Virginia Beach is one of many agencies across the country adopting more restrictive pursuit policies.

Authorities in Florida said Hampton Roads fugitive Carl Douglas Consolvo outran a police officer because the Miami Shores Police Department doesn’t allow pursuits. Federal authorities said Consolvo then continued his crime spree, which included a wave of bank robberies and the shooting of a Utah police officer.

But even though police may sometimes fail to catch criminals, no-pursuit policies could save more than 100 innocent lives a year, advocates said.

In 1996, the latest year for which complete national statistics are available, 377 deaths resulted from police pursuits. Of those deaths, 111 were innocent third parties. The remaining 266 were in the fleeing cars.

Some states have tried to quell the number of police pursuits. Some of those efforts have targeted the motorists, and some have curbed the police.

Oregon lawmakers, for example, made it a felony instead of a misdemeanor to run from police. Other state lawmakers, like those in Delaware, are trying to craft statewide pursuit policies that all municipalities must follow.

Wall said the final version of revised orders could be approved and in place by next month.

More on PILOT ONLINE: Do you agree with the restrictions on Virginia Beach police pursuits? Cast an instant-poll vote and tell your reasoning in TalkNet at

http://www.pilotonline.com

Caption:
[Color photo]
[Police car]
< Graphic What it means to you: For complete copy, see microfilm Copyright (c) 1998 The Virginian-Pilot Record Number: 9806050663

Categories
Archive 1996 STS&G News Goodove in the News Virginian-Pilot

DRUNKEN DRIVER TO PAY VICTIM’S SCHOOL $100 A YEAR FOR 14 YEARS \ SENTENCE IS IN ADDITION TO A $100,000 INSURANCE SETTLEMENT TO THE FAMILY.

A drunken driver who killed a teenager on New Year’s Day has agreed to an unusual settlement of the lawsuit against him: He will pay $100 to the boy’s school every year on the anniversary of the teen’s death.

And he will do it for 14 years – once a year for every year of the dead boy’s life.

The settlement was the idea of Michael L. Goodove, a Norfolk lawyer who lost his own brother to a drunken driver in Charlottesville in 1990.

The settlement also gives $100,000 to the dead boy’s family, the maximum under the driver’s insurance policy, before lawyer fees are deducted. The $100-a-year payment is above and beyond the insurance.

Norfolk Judge John E. Clarkson approved the settlement Friday.

“I insisted on something from the driver personally,” said Goodove, who represents the dead boy’s family and is chairman of the local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. “It sends a message to him, it sends a message to other offenders, and it memorializes the victim.”

The victim was 14-year-old Ernest “Smokey” Hunt of Chesapeake, an articulate, well-liked honor student at Deep Creek Middle School. He was sleeping in the back of a car driven by his brother when a drunken driver plowed into the car’s rear, pinning the teen inside.

“He did everything right,” Goodove said. “He was an honor student, he was college-bound. By all indications, he was going to make it. Then a drunk driver got him.”

The accident happened at 3 a.m. New Year’s Day on Interstate 264 near the Berkley Bridge.

The drunken driver – Steve F. Morris, 23, of Chesapeake – pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and driving under the influence. He was sentenced to two years and 11 months in prison.

Morris had an extensive driving record, including four previous convictions for speeding and one for driving on a suspended license, Goodove said.

At Morris’ sentencing in August, Hunt’s relatives described the devastation the accident caused their family.

“My father just sits around thinking of things to do to get his mind off of Smokey,” said Hunt’s brother, Chantalle, in a written statement. “Most of the time my dad keeps to himself. That hurts knowing how he feels. . . It is hard living in a house that nobody wants to be in. I had plans to move out, but now I’m scared to.”

The boy’s mother, Edna R. Floyd, wrote, “There is no more joy and laughter in my household, only the pain and lots of tears. My family is very, very afraid that I die, too, because my pain is so great. My husband watches over me at night so that I will not hurt myself.”

Teachers wrote about what an extraordinary student Ernest was. He was a member of the National Junior Honor Society and the school’s XLR-8 team.

“He was a very positive, upbeat young man who was willing to give of himself. Whenever anything needed to be done, he volunteered,” wrote one teacher, V.E. Valentine.

“Ernest was a joy to teach and was an exemplary student,” wrote five teachers in the XLR-8 program. “Academically, Ernest maintained the honor roll every year of his life. He worked diligently to reap these honors. His polite and trusting manner brought a smile to the faces of his teachers.”

The boy’s future seemed bright. Last year, he wrote an upbeat poem about himself titled “Me.” In it, he described himself as “a young, ambitious black male” who feels sadness in the world but tries to “touch the hearts of everyone around me.”

“I dream every night I go to bed. I try to make the best out of life. I hope everything I want will soon be mine,” he wrote.

Hunt’s family sued Morris for the boy’s “wrongful death” in Norfolk Circuit Court. Normally, such cases are settled for whatever insurance is available.

In this case, however, Goodove insisted that Morris write a check to Hunt’s school every year on the anniversary of Hunt’s death, as a reminder to himself and the community of the teen’s life.

It is not known what the school will do with the money.

“My son believed that education was the key to success and to a bright future,” his mother wrote in June. “Therefore, I feel that part of Mr. Morris’ sentence should be to donate his income to Deep Creek Middle School, towards education so that we can have better people and less crime.”

Morris will write the first check on Jan. 1, 2000 – the first New Year’s Day that he will be free from prison.

Caption:
[Color Photo]
Ernest “Smokey” Hunt was 14 when he was killed on Jan. 1.

BOY’S POEM
This poem was written last year by Ernest “Smokey” Hunt. He was
killed Jan. 1, 1996, by a drunken driver.
“Me”
I am a young, ambitious, black male.
I wonder if I will ever live a successful life.
I hear the roaring of the sun’s massive power.
I see myself living exactly the way I want.
I want to be well-liked by everybody.
I am a young, ambitious, black male.

I pretend to be happy.
I feel the sadness of the world.
I touch the hearts of everyone around me.
I worry about nothing.
I am a young, ambitious, black male.

I understand that nothing in this world is free.
I say go with the flow.
I dream every night I go to bed.
I try to make the best out of life.
I hope everything I want will soon be mine.
I am a young, ambitious black male.

Copyright (c) 1996 The Virginian-Pilot
Record Number: 9611120217