01 September 2015
Driving drunk shattered livesOn the warm autumn day of Oct. 3, 2014, Joshua Heinze was still just an average guy. The 40-year-old Richmond resident was married with two children, had a good job in IT with the Federal Reserve, and an active social life. He had never been in trouble with the law – never even had a traffic ticket.
But after that day he would never be “just an average guy” again.
The morning started with Heinze floating the James River to Scottsville with a friend from work, drinking beer along the way. They then stopped at a brewery to drink more beer before heading home. As he left the brewery and walked to his car, Joshua Heinze made a decision. He decided to drive drunk.
He got lost at one point and had to consult his phone for directions, nearly running off the road in the process. He drove through the rainy dusk into almost complete darkness without ever turning on his headlights. And when he neared Palmyra on Rt. 15, he drove his car across the center line and into oncoming traffic, causing a terrible accident which changed his life and the lives of his victim and both of their families forever.
Lisa Black of Palmyra was on her way to Camp Friendship that drizzly evening to pick up her 12-year-old old daughter from cheerleading practice. She was hungry, and was thinking of picking up Chinese food for dinner. The next thing she remembers was waking up in her wrecked car in excruciating pain, wondering if she was going to die.
Heinze was arrested one week later and charged with DUI, First Offense, with Failure to Drive on the Right Side of the Highway, and with Maiming in the Commission of a DUI. The first two charges were dropped, and Heinze pled guilty to Maiming in the Commission of a DUI on May 22, 2015.
On Aug. 28, 2015, Heinze and his victim and their spouses appeared in court to speak about the impact the accident has had on their lives, and to hear the sentence the judge would hand down. State sentencing guidelines for a first DUI with injuries recommended a sentence of from one to 30 days in jail. Commonwealth’s Attorney Jeff Haislip believed that sentence was inadequate, and requested a five-year jail sentence. Judge Richard Moore had a tough decision to make.
“This is a difficult case,” said Moore. “This is one of the most tragic cases I have heard of because of the potential consequences to both families,” he explained as he called recess to consider the sentence.
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