Marine, Iraq vet to serve prison time for DUI death of best friend
By MARK BOWES | Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch | Published: January 6, 2014
An Iraq war veteran was sentenced today to serve 1½ years in prison for killing his best friend in an alcohol-related crash last summer on Branders Bridge Road in Chesterfield County, Va.
Substitute Judge Walter W. Stout III of Chesterfield Circuit Court sentenced Aaron B. Christy, 30 – a Marine infantryman who served two tours in Iraq – to five years in prison with three years and six months suspended for involuntary manslaughter in the June 8 death of Andrew N. Buhrman, 29.
Although the maximum punishment for manslaughter is 10 years, state sentencing guidelines based on Christy’s record and social history called for an active prison term of 10 months on the low end and 2 years and 10 months on the high end.
Christy suffers from post traumatic stress syndrome related to his military service, along with “some other issues that he’s working through apart from alcohol abuse, said Chesterfield Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert J. Fierro Jr., who prosecuted the case.
Defense Attorney Randy B. Rowlett introduced a letter from the Virginia Department of Veteran Services and the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program indicating that Christy has been assigned a case manager and will be placed in appropriate treatment programs upon his release from prison.
Christy, of the 1200 block of Riveroaks Drive in Colonial Heights, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter count in October.
According to evidence, Christy and his friend had been out drinking at Longstreet’s restaurant in Petersburg and was impaired when he lost control of his car in the 18000 block of Branders Bridge Road about 1:45 a.m. The car veered off the road and flipped onto its roof, killing Buhrman, who was partially ejected.
Christy told police that he also had been drinking at a friend’s house that night before going to the club. He had a blood-alcohol content of 0.16 percent, or twice the legal limit to drive.
“He admitted to drinking beer and taking shots of alcohol,” Fierro said.
Christy was convicted two years ago of driving under the influence of alcohol in Colonial Heights. He was sentenced to serve four days in jail and fined $250 for that offense.