Last December, 24-year-old Allante Tobias Strother of Culpeper had to be cut out of a wreck on Viewtown Road after the taxicab he was driving — chased at speeds exceeding 100 mph by a deputy who’d clocked him doing 70 in a 35 mph zone — left the snow- and ice-lined road, flipped over and hit a tree.
Strother will be spending this December in jail, awaiting a sentencing hearing scheduled for Feb. 23, after he pleaded guilty last Friday (Nov. 21) in Rappahannock County Circuit Court to a felony charge of eluding police.
A 9 a.m. trial had been scheduled on the eluding charge and an additional charge of vehicle theft; it was delayed when Strother’s attorney, Kevin E. Smith, announced that the defendant was still on his way to the courthouse, mistakenly believing the trial started at 9:30. After his arrival and a brief conference with Smith, Strother pleaded guilty to the felony and a speeding charge.
Judge Jeffrey W. Parker said he was revoking Strother’s bond after accepting the pleas.
Smith told Parker he had been planning to ask the court whether his client might turn himself in next Friday, after Thanksgiving. Parker looked at him sternly.
“I’m not impressed, No. 1, by the fact that the defendant was approximately 30 minutes late for trial today,” Parker said, adding that the case “has been dragged out significantly” since last winter and that, based on Commonwealth Attorney Art Goff’s evidence, in particular photos of Strother’s wreck, “this was a very serious case” of eluding police.
“So I’m going to revoke bail,” he said.
Strother was led quietly out of the courtroom by Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Deputy Cody Dodson. Dodson was in court to testify; he was the deputy who’d pulled out behind Strother and chased him just after 10 p.m. last Dec. 11 on Viewtown Road.
Goff asked the court to temporarily drop the charge of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle after the witness he’d subpoenaed, Thomas Lightfoot — Strother’s grandfather, Goff said, and owner of the Culpeper cab company from which the wrecked vehicle was apparently taken — did not show up for Friday’s scheduled trial.
In circuit court last Thursday (Nov. 20), Paul Alexander White, 28, of Woodbridge, pleaded guilty to violating his probation by testing positive for marijuana and cocaine, after which a part of his jail sentence was reimposed.
In addition to the positive drug tests, Goff told the court, White also used “a Whizzinator, a device that is available on the Internet,” in an attempt to falsify the results of a urine test. (The “Whizzinator” is a rubber prosthetic device that contains a bladder reservoir and is sold with freeze-dried synthetic urine and heating packs to keep the urine warm. “This product is not intended for any illegal purpose,” says a note on the manufacturer’s web page.)
Goff recommended that Parker reimpose 90 days of the two-year sentence (22 months of which were suspended) that White received in September 2013 after pleading guilty to one count of possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute. Parker agreed, and also agreed to add another two years of supervised probation.
Also on Thursday, Parker scheduled a jury trial for March 24 for Tamara Estes of Washington, who was indicted Sept. 8, along with three others, on a charge of distributing heroin last December.