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July 31, 2017

Jury convicts driver for wreck that killed 5-year-old

Felicia Ann Arbujo
Five-year-old Samuel Legg died of his injuries three days after the Nov. 25 crash.
Reckless Driving Trial
• What: Nov. 25, 2016, traffic accident on Route 29 at Freemans Ford Road near Remington.

• Victim: Samuel Legg, 5, died Nov. 28 as a result of injuries from the accident; four other family members suffered various injuries.

• Defendant: Felicia Ann Arbujo, 32, of Stafford County.

• Trial: By jury, Monday, July 31, in Fauquier County Circuit Court.

Conviction: Reckless driving.

• Sentence: 12 months; $2,500 fine.

• Background: On March 2, General District Court Judge J. Gregory Ashwell convicted Mrs. Arbujo of reckless driving. Judge Ashwell sentenced her to maximum 12 months in jail and fined her a maximum $2,500. He also suspended her driver’s license for maximum six months. She appealed the conviction to circuit court.

• Defense attorney: Charles J. Nucciarone of Fairfax.

• Prosecutor: Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Amy M. Cassandra.

• Judge: Herman A. Whisenant Jr.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
After deliberating about 50 minutes, a Fauquier jury Monday afternoon found a Stafford County woman guilty of reckless driving in the November death a 5-year-old New Baltimore-area boy.

The jury sentenced Felicia Ann Arbujo to a maximum 12 months in jail and fined her a maximum $2,500.

Led from courtroom by sheriff’s deputies, Mrs. Arbujo immediately began her sentence Monday afternoon.

Fauquier General District Court Judge J. Gregory Ashwell on March 2 convicted Mrs. Arbjuo of reckless driving, imposing a 12-month jail sentence, fining her $2,500 and suspending her driver’s license for six months.

The defendant appealed that ruling to the circuit court.

The accident that resulted in Samuel Legg’s death took place last Nov. 25 — the day after Thanksgiving.

Heading south on Route 29 near Remington, Jared and Susie Legg and their three young children sat in their 2010 Honda Odyssey van, waiting for the light to turn green.

A 2009 Dodge Journey SUV driven by Mrs. Arbujo suddenly slammed into the minivan and drove it into the median.

Medics summoned three helicopters that landed on the highway to fly the Legg children to Inova Fairfax Hospital’s trauma center.

Never regaining conscious, Samuel died three days later at the hospital, Mr. Legg told the jury of six women and one man Monday.

Besides Mr. and Mrs. Legg, five others testified, including the defendant.

Mr. Legg spoke in detail about the injuries all of his family members suffered as result of the accident. They included cuts and bruises to severe skull and facial fractures.

He described Samuel, whom they adopted at age 21 months, as “trapped” in the rear of the van, which got crushed in the accident.

“He never recovered and was pronounced dead three days later,” said Mr. Legg, who struggled to remain composed.

Recalling the accident, he said: “I saw the (Mrs. Arbujo’s) vehicle coming at me at a very high rate of speed . . . . I had very little time to react.”

Sheriff’s Deputy Alex Armstrong, who worked the accident scene that morning, testified that Mrs. Arbujo told him that she saw a green traffic light and reached for a cup of hot chocolate just before the accident at Route 29 and Freemans Ford Road.

Mrs. Arbujo hit the brakes two-tenths of a second before impact, according to data retrieved from her vehicle’s “crash recorder.”

But, the road had “no skid marks prior to the crash,” Deputy Armstrong said.

Machelle Newman, a bookkeeper who lives in Madison County, drove to work when the accident took place.

Because Mrs. Arbujo’s vehicle had been “weaving within its lane so much . . . I decided not to pass” her, Ms. Newman said. “I kept off quite a distance to be safe.”

Ms. Newman suggested the defendant took no “action to slow down” as she approached the light.

“It was loud enough to hear it over my radio,” she said of the accident.

Under persistent questioning from Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Amy M. Cassandra, the defendant insisted she remained undistracted even when she reached for a cup of hot chocolate and the top came off in her hand.

“I’m focusing on the light and what was right in front of me,” Mrs. Arbujo said.

But, the prosecutor insisted the defendant took her eyes “off the road” and failed to “pay attention.”

Mrs. Arbujo’s lawyer — Charles J. Nucciarone of Fairfax — argued that the prosecution failed to prove that his client had violated Virginia’s reckless driving law.

Mrs. Arbujo’s driving convictions include:

• Driving 15 to 19 miles over the speed limit in Essex County on Virginia's Middle Peninsula almost two months before the Fauquier accident that killed Samuel Legg.

• Failing to stop or yield while entering a Fairfax County highway.

• Reckless driving at more than 80 mph in Greensville County along the North Carolina border.
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jdobbins · August 1, 2017 at 2:01 pm
Giving the witness accounts of her weaving so much it was dangerous to try to pass her, it was clear she was either under the influence or using her cell phone. Her sentence was a pure and undeserved gift. She should have been charged with and convicted of manslaughter. She should have her license revoked indefinitely given her driving record. She is a danger to everyone around her.
ConservativePatriot1776 · August 1, 2017 at 12:46 pm
After all the comments left in previous stories about this case, why this wasn't charged as manslaughter should've been explained in the news report. Lazy reporting.

§ 18.2-36.1. Certain conduct punishable as involuntary manslaughter.
A. Any person who, ***as a result of driving under the influence*** in violation of clause (ii), (iii), or (iv) of § 18.2-266 or any local ordinance substantially similar thereto unintentionally causes the death of another person, shall be guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
Bonnie C. · August 1, 2017 at 12:23 pm
Twelve months??? Nothing but a wrist-slap for what amounts to murdering someone. These laws need to be seriously amended. After a year, what's going to stop this moron from simply doing this again?
FreddieKrueger · July 31, 2017 at 9:32 pm
The defendant hit the brakes only a split second before impact? Sounds like a charge of involuntary manslaughter would have been appropriate - that way the jury would have had the option of a longer sentence... But putting that question aside, kudos to Ms. Cassandra for prosecuting the case, getting the conviction, and getting a max sentence -- something that is much easier said than done.
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