Williams gives tearful apology to Koster family; judge suspends sentence for reckless handling of firearm
David Michael Williams, 24, of Chester Gap, appeared in Rappahannock County Circuit Court Tuesday (Jan. 24) to be formally sentenced for involuntary manslaughter in the death of his girlfriend Brittney Danielle Koster.
Williams was also charged with felony reckless handling of a firearm. (An additional misdemeanor charge of brandishing a firearm was dropped, as part of the plea agreement reached between Williams and Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff).
Wearing a faded orange and white striped jumpsuit stamped with “RSW INMATE” on the back, a manacled Williams stood with his attorney Frank Reynolds before Judge Herman A. Whisenant. The courtroom was filled with Williams’ and Koster’s family and friends sitting largely on opposite sides of the gallery.
Out of an abundance of caution due to the highly emotional nature of the proceeding, the courtroom was heavily guarded by several uniformed and plainclothes Rappahannock County Sheriff’s deputies and detectives, as well as Sheriff Connie Compton herself. Their presence added to the gravity of the already somber proceedings.
Before the final sentence was pronounced, Williams read aloud a short letter to the court. In it he apologized to the Koster family and expressed his sorrow and regret.
“I can’t imagine what the Koster family is going through,” he read in a quiet, tearful voice. “I will never forgive myself and I take full responsibility for my negligence.” At times he had to stop to compose himself before he could go on. He pledged to do whatever good works he could do to try in some way to make up for Brittney’s death.
Goff asked the court to accept the plea agreement reached between Williams and the Koster family. “This is a fair resolution to a very sad case,” said Goff.
Reynolds agreed. “I share the Commonwealth’s opinion that this is a sad case,” he said, “a horrible, unintentional killing” that had been “extensively investigated.”
Stipulation of facts
Reynolds said that a polygraph test supported Williams’ description of events, as laid out in plea agreement’s stipulation of facts: shortly after midnight on December 15, 2015, Williams and Koster were watching TV in the basement of Williams’s parents’ home on Nez Perce Way. While joking around, Koster picked up Williams’s 9mm semiautomatic pistol, a gun he had bought just months before but had never used, and chambered a round before she gave the pistol back to Williams.
While ejecting the round Koster had chambered, Williams also unknowingly chambered a round himself before ejecting the ammunition magazine from the pistol’s handle. He stated to police that he thought the gun was unloaded when he pointed it at Koster and expected to hear a click when he pulled the trigger. Instead, the gun fired and the round hit Koster in the neck and traveled through her right lung. She stood up, called his name and then fell. She never regained consciousness. Koster, a student at George Mason University and an employee of the Dumfries Food Lion, was 25 when she died.
Whisenant accepted the plea agreement and sentenced Williams to ten years in the penitentiary for the manslaughter charge, but suspended three years. For the reckless handling of a firearm charge, Williams was sentenced to five years in the penitentiary, with all five suspended.
Once he is released from prison, Williams will face 10 years’ probation, the first five of which will be supervised. He was also ordered to pay over $25,000 in restitution to the Koster family for funeral and burial expenses.
Williams was remanded back into the custody of a Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Deputy and led out of the courtroom.
The entire session took ten minutes.
After Whisenant adjourned the court, Compton and her deputies systematically cleared the gallery, signaling the Williams family to leave first. Only after deputies were assured that the family had left the building and dispersed was the Koster family released.