THE CIRCUIT COURT OF RUSSELL COUNTY Michael Lee Moore, Judge
M. Galumbeck (Galumbeck & Kegley, Attorneys, on brief),
L. Yates, Assistant Attorney General (Mark R. Herring,
Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.
Present: Judges Petty, O'Brien and Russell Argued at
GRACE O'BRIEN, JUDGE
convicted Clinard Gary Lambert ("appellant") of
aggravated involuntary manslaughter, in violation of Code
§ 18.2-36.1, and driving while intoxicated, in violation
of Code § 18.2-266. The court imposed the jury's
sentence of seven years of incarceration for manslaughter and
a $1, 500 fine for driving under the influence.
asserts three assignments of error. First, he contends the
court erred by not allowing him to question a witness, now a
former state trooper, "regarding his conviction of
soliciting a prostitute and the reasons for his termination
of employment with the Virginia State Police." In his
second and third assignments of error, appellant challenges
the sufficiency of the evidence that he
"self-administered the drugs which impaired his ability
to drive" and that he had taken the "drugs prior to
the accident and at a time when they or it would have
affected his driving safely." Finding no error, we
review the evidence in the light most favorable to the
prevailing party at trial, the Commonwealth. Commonwealth
v. Hudson, 265 Va. 505, 514 (2003). So viewed, the
evidence established that on March 1, 2015, Donna Turner was
driving her Chevrolet Cavalier across Big A Mountain in
Russell County, with Forrest Ramey in the passenger seat.
Appellant, who was operating a pickup truck, crossed the
center line and collided with Turner's vehicle. Ramey
later died as a result of blunt force injuries sustained in
Musick was driving on the same road as Turner and appellant.
He heard a "big thump" and saw a truck pressed
against the guardrail when he looked in his rearview mirror.
Musick immediately turned around and drove back toward the
accident site. He was the first person at the scene.
after Musick, another driver, Tammy Brown, arrived with one
of her friends and saw that the parties involved in the
collision were still inside their vehicles. Brown assisted
Turner, and Brown's friend helped appellant out of his
truck. Brown testified that appellant appeared
"dazed," "wobbly on his feet," and was
bleeding profusely. Appellant was standing beside the truck,
and Brown did not see him eat, drink, or take any medication
after the accident.
Morrison, a member of the Lebanon Lifesaving Crew, responded
to the accident. According to Morrison, who also works as an
assistant chief nurse at the local hospital, appellant was
conscious and alert but had "some slurred speech."
When she spoke to appellant, he denied consuming any drugs or
alcohol prior to driving. Morrison testified that she thought
appellant suffered an orbital fracture and also believed he
was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. She stated that
appellant was not given any medication at the accident scene
or during his transport to the hospital. Emergency personnel
took Turner and Ramey to the hospital as well.
Osborne, a state trooper at the time, also responded to the
accident. Osborne testified that during his twenty-year
employment with the Virginia State Police, he investigated
approximately ten accidents per month, although he was not on
the accident reconstruction team. Virginia State Police
policy did not require him to call a reconstructionist
because there were no fatalities at the scene. Osborne
testified that based on his investigation, he determined that
appellant's truck "crossed the center line[, ] . . .
struck the guardrail[, ] . . . and scrubbed up against the
guardrail for approximately forty feet." From the damage
to the passenger side of the Cavalier, Osborne concluded that
Turner tried to avoid the truck before the collision.
testified that he spoke with appellant at the accident scene
for approximately five to ten minutes. Although appellant
initially denied consuming any drugs or alcohol before
driving, he subsequently admitted that he had "just come
back" from receiving a methadone treatment at a local
clinic. Osborne observed that appellant had glassy eyes,
appeared sleepy, and needed to lean on the guardrail for
support. Osborne obtained a search warrant for
appellant's blood; a subsequent chemical analysis
revealed the presence of methadone, alprazolam (commonly
known as Xanax), and nordiazepam.
James Kuhlman, Jr., a forensic toxicologist, testified that
the low level of nordiazepam was probably a metabolite from
Valium that appellant consumed several days before the
accident and likely did not affect appellant's driving.
However, in his opinion, the individual levels of methadone
and alprazolam were "more significant." Each of the
three drugs has depressant effects and can cause drowsiness,
dizziness, lethargy, slowed hand-eye coordination, slurred
speech, and altered balance. Dr. Kuhlman testified that the
combination of Xanax and methadone can be dangerous if the
user is not accustomed to taking those drugs together.
Although Dr. Kuhlman acknowledged that a head injury could
produce similar side effects, he concluded that the drug
levels present in appellant's blood could have impaired
testified that he spoke with Turner four days after the
accident, following her hospital discharge. She recounted
that as she came around a curve, appellant's pickup truck