Fort Story soldier sentenced to prison for role in fatal drag race on post
By SCOTT DAUGHERTY | The Virginian-Pilot (Tribune News Service) | Published: October 11, 2017
NORFOLK, Va. — The prosecution and defense wanted a Virginia Beach soldier to serve one year in prison for his role in a fatal drag race on Joint Expeditionary Base Fort Story.
But given the soldier’s prior record of speeding – and his online boasts about it – U.S. District Judge Henry Morgan Jr. said the attorneys were asking for too much leniency. He said Jonathan B. Richard deserved one year even if the drag race didn’t end with one person dead and another injured.
Richard, 22, was sentenced Wednesday to 2 1/2 years in prison, the low end of federal guidelines.
According to court documents, Richard was racing another soldier at the time of the Aug. 13, 2016, crash on Hospital Road. He was driving a black 2011 Chevrolet Camaro, and 26-year-old William Alvarez III was driving a Nissan Altima.
The two men lost control of their vehicles trying to negotiate a curve, court documents said.
Richard’s car spun out on a sandlot, resulting in no injuries. Alvarez’s vehicle, however, struck a concrete block, flew into the air for about 50 feet and struck a tree, documents said.
The impact killed Alvarez and left a passenger seriously injured.
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney James Cole joined defense attorney Scott Hallauer on Wednesday in asking Morgan for mercy.
Cole noted that the two men were friends, Alvarez was a willing participant in the race, and the two vehicles never touched. And Hallauer referenced his client’s strong family ties, his status as an Eagle Scout and his decision to enlist in the military at the age of 18.
But Morgan noted Richard’s record, which included two speeding tickets and one reckless driving conviction for driving 115 mph on Shore Drive – a 55-mph zone. He also highlighted a Facebook post Richard made a few months before the fatal crash, in which he bragged about driving his Camaro at 150 mph and wanting to race a friend.
“A 21-year-old soldier with a muscle car is probably a bad idea in the first place,” Hallauer said in court. “Sometimes a young person doesn’t learn a lesson as fast as he should.”
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