Author: MATTHEW ROY AND JON FRANK THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT
A man facing his seventh drunken-driving charge after the crash Tuesday that killed a high school student was charged with driving drunk three weeks ago, but regained his freedom within hours by posting a $1,000 bond.
Roy Lee Everett, 30, was charged Tuesday with running a red light, driving under the influence and 10 other violations in the crash that killed 16-year-old Landon Chambers and injured his brother, Barney.
Everett is being held without bail in the Norfolk City Jail.
Everett has been behind bars before. He has three previous DUI convictions in Virginia Beach. And he was arrested for drunken driving most recently on April 14.
That’s when, court records say, Norfolk Officer W.E. Whiteside stopped him for driving recklessly at the wheel of a Jaguar.
Whiteside smelled alcohol.
“I asked if he had been drinking and he stated yes, 4 Mike’s Lemonades in an hour,” Whiteside wrote in papers filed in Norfolk General District Court.
A Department of Motor Vehicles records check showed Everett’s three prior convictions for DUI, Whiteside noted, as well as three previous convictions for driving on a suspended license.
In addition to the third-offense DUI, Whiteside charged Everett with driving after his driving privileges had been suspended.
Magistrate J.D. Bullock Jr. set Everett’s bond at $1,000 at 3:16 a.m. on April 14, according to court records. Everett posted bail through a bonding company at 4:57 a.m. and was freed.
Michael Goodove, an attorney and president of the Southside Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said anyone charged with a third-offense DUI, a felony, should not be allowed to post a bond and be freed from custody.
“Our position is the criminal justice system’s paramount responsibility is to protect lives,” he said. “Research has shown that your hardcore, repetitive drunk-driving offenders are the folks most
likely to injure or kill somebody.”
Three weeks after his release, police contend, Everett drove a pickup through a red light at North Military Highway and Azalea Garden Road into the path of the Chambers brothers, who were traveling in a Honda Civic. The impact crumpled their car and flipped the pickup on its side. Witnesses said Everett climbed from the pickup’s rear window and ran. Citizens cornered him behind a carpet store until police arrived to arrest him.
Bullock could not be reached for comment.
Chief Magistrate Beth B. Pennington said she spoke with him briefly about the bond and intends to meet with him in the coming week.
“At this point, I have to trust the magistrate’s judgment,” she said. “He’s been a magistrate for a while.”
By setting bonds, magistrates try to ensure that defendants show up in court, she said, noting they don’t determine guilt or innocence. She said they consider the length of time a defendant has lived in the area, family ties, any prior record and their likelihood to appear in court.
“No matter how high it’s set, a person can still bond out,” Pennington said.
This week’s DUI charge is the latest in a long list of serious driving infractions for Everett, stretching back to at least 1994.
During the past eight years, Everett has been convicted multiple times for a variety of charges, including reckless driving and speeding.
Everett’s three DUI convictions in Virginia Beach started with a charge in 1994. Five years later, in May 1999, Everett was charged with DUI, second offense.
In December 1999, he was charged again with DUI, second offense.
That last charge resulted in Everett getting the maximum jail penalty for second-offense-DUI – 12 months in jail, according Judge Albert D. Alberi, who sentenced Everett in Virginia Beach General District Court.
But Alberi suspended 11 months of the time and allowed Everett to serve the resulting monthlong sentence on weekends in the Virginia Beach City Jail.
It was not clear on Friday why Everett was not charged that December with DUI, third offense.
DUI, third offense, became a felony when state law was changed by the General Assembly in July 1999. It carries a maximum prison sentence of five years and can be lodged against any drunken driver who has two prior DUI convictions within the past 10 years.
Mark T. Del Duca, a Virginia Beach lawyer and former Beach prosecutor, explained Friday that Everett’s December DUI charge in 1999 may have occurred before his May 1999 offense had made its way through the court system.
If that were the case, it may have been impossible for Everett to be charged with DUI, third offense, in December 1999, Del Duca said.
Everett also was charged with second-offense DUI in Norfolk in January 1998, but the count was dismissed, online court records say.
Another DUI charge, in Emporia in August 1997, was dismissed, according to online court records.
Reach Matthew Roy at mroy(AT)pilotonline.com or 446-2540.
Copyright (c) 2003 The Virginian-Pilot
Record Number: 0305100125