Plea agreement reached in Graves DUI case

Drugged driver could spend two years in prison and pay $20K in restitution to Sperryville woman

Rappahannock County Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff says he has reached a plea agreement with the driver of a pickup truck that crashed head-on into Sperryville resident Virginie Audrain’s car last January.

The agreement will be presented this morning (Thursday, Jan. 9) in circuit court, where a planned jury trial has been cancelled as a result. Goff said Bryan Daniel Graves, 29, will plead guilty to both charges against him: driving while intoxicated and causing maiming, a felony; and a second-time DWI offense, a misdemeanor.

On Jan. 9 of last year, Graves’ vehicle crossed the centerline on northbound Route 231 and hit Audrain’s car head on. Audrain, 54, had to be cut out of the wreckage and, after a week in the intensive care unit at Inova Fairfax Hospital, spent the next three months in hospitals and rehab centers.

If the circuit court judge accepts Goff’s recommendations for sentencing — sentencing is not on the docket for today’s session, when Judge A. Whisenant is expected to preside — Graves would be sentenced to five years in prison on the felony charge, with three years suspended, and 12 months for the misdemeanor, with 10 months suspended.

Graves’ driver’s license would be suspended indefinitely, according to Goff’s recommendation, and he’d be on supervised probation for three years, unsupervised for another two.

“I’m thinking of this as a victory,” Goff said Tuesday.

Audrain said she would be satisfied with the proposed guilty pleas and recommended sentence. “I think it is wise,” Audrain said. “I’m really grateful for the work that Art Goff has done. I don’t know him, but he has just cared, for what happened to me and how it’s traumatized me and my life, but also he cares about protecting people to whom this could happen.”

As for Graves, she said, “I leave it to the justice system to know what is best.

“I just wish, for this man, that he can grow and learn to care about life, his own and that of others, so that he doesn’t do things that endanger his life or anybody else’s,” she said by phone. “If he can find in himself the courage and motivation to take charge of his life and be respectful and caring, I would be glad. I’ve learned things that I didn’t want to learn, and I’m sure he has, too.”

Testimony prepared for the pending jury trial by Dr. Carol O’Neal of the state medical examiner’s office, who analyzed Graves’ blood samples after the crash, says Graves had a concentration of two drugs in his system — .13 milligrams per liter of alprazolam (commonly known as Xanax), for which he had no prescription, and a similarly high concentration of methadone, which Goff said Graves was taking as part of an authorized addiction treatment program.

State Trooper Brandon Johnson’s complaint said Graves told him, during an interview at Culpeper Hospital’s emergency room, that he’d taken the Xanax at 4 a.m. that day and the methadone at 10 a.m., and had only slept five hours in the previous two days. “During the interview I noticed that Mr. Graves’ speech was very slurred and his eyes watery and red,” Johnson wrote.

The plea agreement signed by Graves and his lawyer, Kevin Smith, also recommends restitution be required, and says “the defendant agrees that restitution in the amount of $20,000 is appropriate, although the victim’s medical bills exceed $250,000 in this case.”

Goff recommendation states that he would not object if work release were allowed by the judge, and says the defendant also agrees to pay $150 a month toward the $20,000 — during work release if it’s approved, or if not, starting two months after he is released from prison.

The agreement also includes a stipulation that “the defendant will write a letter of apology to Virginie Audrain before his sentencing hearing, which letter will be sent the Commonwealth’s Attorney for his review as to its appropriateness. If deemed inappropriate, the defendant’s counsel will be notified, and the defendant shall submit another letter for review.”

If no appropriate apology letter is received,“then the Commonwealth’s Attorney will not be bound by this agreement regarding a sentence recommendation and he may argue . . . for a more severe penalty.”

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Roger Piantadosi
About Roger Piantadosi 538 Articles
Former Rappahannock News editor Roger Piantadosi is a writer and works on web and video projects for Rappahannock Media and his own Synergist Media company. Before joining the News in 2009, he was a staff writer, editor and web developer at The Washington Post for almost 30 years.