Taylor B. Stone (Janus & Stone, Richmond, on brief), for appellant.
Katherine Quinlan Adelfio, Assistant Attorney General (Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, II, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.
Present: HUFF, CHAFIN and DECKER, JJ.
TERESA M. CHAFIN, Judge.
[63 Va.App. 3] Kin Yui Cheung (" Cheung" ) was convicted by the Circuit Court of Caroline County (" circuit court" ) of four counts of involuntary manslaughter in violation of Code § 18.2-36. The four victims in these cases were killed when a passenger bus driven by Cheung overturned on Interstate 95 on May 31, 2011. On appeal, Cheung argues that the evidence presented by the Commonwealth was insufficient to support his convictions. Specifically, he contends that the evidence failed to establish that his actions preceding the bus accident " were so gross and wanton [as] to show a reckless disregard of human life." For the reasons that follow, we find that the evidence presented was sufficient to support Cheung's convictions and affirm the circuit court's decision.
" On appeal, ‘ we review the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, granting to it all reasonable [63 Va.App. 4] inferences fairly deducible therefrom.’ " Archer v. Commonwealth, 26 Va.App. 1, 11, 492 S.E.2d 826, 831 (1997) (quoting Martin v. Commonwealth, 4 Va.App. 438, 443, 358 S.E.2d 415, 418 (1987)). So viewed, the evidence establishes that Cheung drove passenger buses for a company doing business as Sky Express. On May 30, 2011, a bus driven by Cheung departed from Greensboro, North Carolina, at 10:00 p.m. bound for New York City, New York. The bus was scheduled to make stops in Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina; South Hill, Virginia; and Maryland, and arrive at its destination at 8:30 a.m. The bus picked up passengers at several of these stops. When the bus crashed around 5:00 a.m. on May 31, 2011, it held fifty-seven passengers.
A number of passengers made observations concerning Cheung's behavior and driving during the course of the ill-fated trip. Two passengers, Jasmine Rivera (" Rivera" ) and Karrica Finch (" Finch" ), stated that Cheung seemed confused when they boarded the bus in Raleigh. Rivera stated that Cheung seemed confused about taking her ticket, and Finch described how Cheung seemed to have difficulty counting passengers and tickets. Additional passengers boarded the bus in Durham. During this stop, Finch observed Cheung have an argument with another man outside of the bus. Finch saw this individual give Cheung a bag containing energy drinks, and she saw Cheung consuming these drinks between Durham and South Hill.
After leaving Durham, Cheung made an unscheduled stop. Cheung got off the bus without speaking to the passengers, and was seen looking underneath the bus and inspecting its tires. Two women then got off the bus to use the restroom. When other passengers followed the women off the bus, Cheung became agitated and yelled at them for getting off the bus without his permission. Cheung then returned to the driver's seat and threatened to leave the women who were using the restroom. He began to drive away and only stopped when other passengers protested. When the women returned to the bus, he scolded them for leaving the bus without his [63 Va.App. 5] permission and told them that they would arrive late at their destination due to their actions.
Following this stop, Cheung spoke on his cell phone in Mandarin to an unknown party for a period of thirty minutes to an hour. Shirley Dai (" Dai" ), a passenger who spoke Mandarin and was sitting in the front row of the bus, overheard his conversation. At trial, Dai testified that she heard Cheung complain that he did not get enough rest. Dai testified that Cheung told the person on the cell phone that:
he doesn't get enough rest, every time he gets off the bus he heads over to his boss's
place, they will have dinner and they will talk a little bit, he will shower and go to sleep, and then a couple of hours later he would need to get up and go back to work again.
Cheung stopped in South Hill to refuel, and the passengers were allowed to exit the bus at that time. Several passengers observed Cheung buying four or five cans of Red Bull, an energy drink, during this stop. Another passenger, Ronald Harris (" Harris" ), observed Cheung buying a large cup of coffee. Harris, a professional bus driver with over fifteen years of experience, asked Cheung if he was " alright" when ...