Fort Eustis soldier indicted in crash that killed 2 college students
DUI was fourth for soldier since 2004
The (Newport News, Va.) Daily Press/MCT
HAMPTON — A Fort Eustis soldier has been indicted by a grand jury on charges of being intoxicated during a wrong-way crash on Interstate 64 that killed two Christopher Newport University students last year.
Jesse Evans Jr., 34, was indicted on two counts of involuntary manslaughter, three counts of maiming by DUI and having two DUIs within five years. State police initially cited alcohol as a factor in the crash, though Evans had not been charged with DUI until the indictment.
CNU students Sierra Smith, 19 and Kimberley Brin, 17, were traveling west on I-64 at 2:49 a.m. when they were struck by Evans on Dec. 4. Evans was driving a Chevrolet Tahoe the wrong way near the Harpersville Road overpass, according to police. Smith, of Newport News, died at the scene. Brin, of the U.S. Virgin Islands, died a day later. The crash occurred 100 feet inside the Hampton city line. Three others who were traveling with the girls were injured.
Evans' blood-alcohol content the morning of the crash was 0.21 — nearly three times the Virginia limit of 0.08, according to a certificate of analysis from the Department of Forensic Science. Evans' blood was drawn two hours after the fatal crash.
This is the fourth time Evans has been charged with DUI since 2004.
In 2004, while stationed in Germany, Evans was charged with DUI and drunk and disorderly conduct, according to court testimony. The charges were handled by the military. In May 2006, Evans was convicted of DUI while stationed in Hawaii, court documents show. A jury convicted Evans of DUI in June stemming from a Sept. 16 incident in Newport News.
State Police Trooper B.L. Stokes testified in December that when she walked to Evans' SUV after the fatal I-64 crash, she couldn't tell if he was sleeping or unconscious. She tapped on the window and asked if he was OK. He told her he was fine. Evans also asked police what had happened.
Stokes said she "smelled a strong odor of alcohol" on Evans. Two Budweiser beers were found in the console of Evans' SUV, according to Stokes.
Stokes testified Dec. 21 during Evans' bond hearing for the Newport News DUI case. One of the Budweiser beers was half empty and the other was full, according to court testimony.
In the unrelated Newport News DUI case, police found a half-empty 24-ounce can of Budweiser in the center console of Evans' SUV. The can was cool to the touch, according to court testimony. Evans testified that he had a drink a few hours before at a club but said the beer didn't belong to him. He said a friend who he drove to the club left it in his car.
Evans was still classified as a staff sergeant based at Fort Eustis as of Monday, according to a base spokeswoman.
Evans has declined two interview requests from the Daily Press.
Brin and Smith were freshman at CNU. The girls and three others were on their way back to Newport News from a club in Virginia Beach. Emani Wade, 18 — a passenger in the Ford Taurus — testified during the preliminary hearing that driver Laval Noel had been drinking and there was alcohol in the car. She said Noel, of Williamsburg, was falling asleep on their way back to Newport News.
In an attempt to stay awake, Noel "rolled down the window and turned up the music," she said. Wade said she didn't see the Tahoe driving toward them.
When the vehicles collided, Evans was traveling 30-33 mph and Noel was traveling 35-40 mph, according to court testimony.
Evans' speed was consistently declining before the crash, but there were no skid marks or signs of braking on the roadway where the crash occurred.
Evans' two-day jury trial is scheduled for November.
Distributed by MCT Information Services