Release Date: Tuesday, February 22, 2011 5:20 p.m.
Harvey L. Bryant, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Virginia Beach, announced today that Natasha Renee Herzog, 30 years old, previously residing in the 3600 block of Starlighter Drive, Virginia Beach, was sentenced today by the Honorable Stephen C. Mahan on charges of Involuntary Manslaughter, Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol with Victim Permanently Impaired, Driving Under the Influence – 2nd Conviction within 5 Years and Refusal of Blood/Breath Test. Judge Mahan sentenced Herzog to 15 years and 18 months imprisonment, then suspended 11 years and six (6) months of that sentence, leaving Herzog three (3) years and 24 months to serve. In addition, Herzog is to remain on good behavior for a period of 12 years, during which she may not operate a motor vehicle. Herzog pleaded guilty on September 13, 2010.
The Commonwealth’s evidence would have proved that just after midnight on November 27, 2009, Hunter Richardson and Charlotte Staats were leaving Guadalajara Restaurant at Virginia Beach Town Center. They walked to the corner of Columbus Street and Market Street and then entered the crosswalk on Columbus Street. They were just past midway when they were run over in the street by Herzog. The speed limit on Columbus Street was 35 MPH. An eyewitness to the collision estimated Herzog’s speed at 45 to 50 MPH and saw that she did not stop or slow down before hitting Richardson and Staats. When the first Virginia Beach police officer arrived at the scene and encountered Herzog, her speech was slurred, her eyes were bloodshot, she was unsteady on her feet and had a strong odor of alcohol emanating from her breath. At first Herzog stated that someone else was driving, but later admitted that she was the driver of the car and was arrested.
Richardson suffered head, chest and abdominal injuries as well as injuries to his extremities. He survived for a short time after the impact, but succumbed to his injuries and died at 1:15 p.m. on the same day at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.
Staats survived the accident but was seriously injured. Metal rods and screws were required to repair her legs, as well as bone and skin grafts. She has permanent disfiguring scars on her legs and has nerve damage.
Herzog’s record includes convictions for 18 traffic offenses, including a conviction in Virginia Beach Circuit Court for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol on July 21, 2005.
The Commonwealth urged the Court to exceed the high end of the Virginia Sentencing Guidelines in this case, which called for three (3) years and two (2) months imprisonment. “She was reckless and had been reckless many, many times before,” Associate Commonwealth’s Attorney Tabitha B. Anderson said during her argument to the Court. “This is about sentencing someone with this record for this crime. There has to be a severe punishment.”
“As is too often the case, the Sentencing Guidelines for this defendant, with her atrocious driving record, were inadequate. One dead and one seriously, permanently injured should merit substantially higher sentencing parameters,” Bryant said.
Associate Commonwealth’s Attorney Tabitha B. Anderson and Associate Commonwealth’s Attorney Wendy R. Alexander prosecuted this case. Please call Macie Pridgen if additional information is desired.