THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE CITY OF FREDERICKSBURG Gordon F.
Joseph Ilijevich for appellant.
I. Jones, IV, Assistant Attorney General (Mark R. Herring,
Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.
Present: Chief Judge Huff, Judges Russell and Malveaux Argued
at Richmond, Virginia
G. RUSSELL, JR., JUDGE
Leslie Itutu Camp, was convicted of two counts of felony
child neglect pursuant to Code §
18.2-371.1(B). She contends the evidence was insufficient
to support her convictions. Specifically, she contends the
trial court erred "when it relied upon evidence of an
elevated" blood alcohol content (BAC) to support her
convictions for felony child neglect. We disagree and affirm.
well-settled principles of appellate review, we consider the
evidence presented at trial in the light most favorable to
the Commonwealth, the prevailing party below."
Smallwood v. Commonwealth, 278 Va. 625, 629, 688
S.E.2d 154, 156 (2009) (quoting Bolden v.
Commonwealth, 275 Va. 144, 148, 654 S.E.2d 584, 586
(2008)). This principle requires us to "discard the
evidence of the accused in conflict with that of the
Commonwealth, and regard as true all the credible evidence
favorable to the Commonwealth and all fair inferences to be
drawn therefrom." Parks v. Commonwealth, 221
Va. 492, 498, 270 S.E.2d 755, 759 (1980) (emphasis and
internal quotation marks omitted).
viewed, the evidence establishes that, on the evening of
December 25, 2014, Fredericksburg police officer Aheleza
Lasco was on patrol in his marked police vehicle. While at an
intersection at approximately 8:24 p.m., he observed an SUV
on which both driver's side tires were completely flat.
The SUV, driven by appellant, had difficulty making a turn
into the intersection, nearly striking Lasco's patrol
car. Lasco then followed appellant's vehicle into an
apartment complex parking lot. Appellant and her two
children, then seven and twelve years old, were exiting the
SUV when Lasco approached.
initially believed appellant had been in an accident and
needed assistance. When he asked her about the tires, she
responded that she was "not aware" that the tires
were flat. Initially, she was evasive to the point of
"almost ignoring" Lasco. She then stated
"something to the effect she'd hit a median
somewhere." As they were speaking, Lasco smelled alcohol
coming from appellant. When Lasco asked appellant if she had
been drinking, she stated that she had been drinking at a
restaurant around 7:30 that evening. At that point, one of
the children spoke up and "said something to the effect
of no, we were at auntie's house."
on his interaction with appellant, Lasco asked her to perform
field sobriety tests. She agreed to attempt the tests,
ultimately failing all three. Lasco first attempted to
administer the finger dexterity test, but appellant began the
test before Lasco finished giving her instructions and did
not complete the test successfully. Appellant then attempted
to perform the nine-step walk and turn test, which she
failed. During the one-legged stand, appellant fell over.
Appellant refused a preliminary breath test, and Lasco
arrested her. Because of appellant's refusal to take a
breath test, Lasco obtained a search warrant for a blood draw
and transported appellant to Mary Washington Hospital.
blood was drawn at 10:42 p.m. The analyzed sample revealed
that her BAC was .25. At trial, Dr. Carol O'Neal, a
forensic toxicologist supervisor with the Department of
Forensic Science at the Northern Laboratory, testified that
appellant's BAC concentration would affect an
individual's steering accuracy, vision, balance and
coordination, and the ability to see objects clearly. She
also explained that appellant's BAC would cause
"tunnel vision, " meaning that the driver is just
staring straight ahead and losing all reference to the
periphery. Dr. O'Neal further testified that individuals
typically reach their highest BAC concentration within thirty
minutes of their last drink. For that reason, she expressed
her opinion that if someone took a drink an hour before
driving, and the blood was drawn three hours later, it could
be expected that the "blood alcohol level at the time of
driving [would be] higher than when the blood was
taken." Finally, Dr. O'Neal opined that "the
ability to drive safely is compromised" if a person
drives with a BAC concentration of .25.
convicting appellant of driving while intoxicated, the trial
court pointed to appellant's admission to consuming
alcohol, her operation of a vehicle with two flat tires, the
strong odor of alcohol observed by Lasco, and her admission
to hitting a median. The court further noted appellant's
failure to complete the field sobriety tests and her
belligerence towards Lasco and hospital staff. The court
explained that "the BAC test of [.25] is consistent with
all the other indicia of your being heavily and highly
intoxicated." Then, "from the evidence and
testimony provided, " the court found the evidence was
sufficient for a finding of felony child neglect.
And, of course, driving extremely intoxicated while you have
your children in the vehicle and actually having an accident,
actually having hit the median, is not a possibility of
danger or harm to your ...