Commonwealth v. Anthony Francis Spence; Judge Imposes Maximum Sentence for Drunk Driver in High-Speed Crash

Commonwealth v. Anthony Francis Spence; Judge Imposes Maximum Sentence for Drunk Driver in High-Speed Crash
September 14, 2020

​Colin D. Stolle, Commonwealth's Attorney for the city of Virginia Beach, announced that Anthony Francis Spence, age 37, of Winter Park, Florida, was sentenced today by Circuit Court Judge Les L. Lilley for Aggravated Involuntary Manslaughter. Judge Lilley sentenced Spence to the maximum sentence of twenty (20) years in prison and did not suspend any portion of the sentence. Spence pled guilty on October 21, 2019. Had this matter gone to trial, the Commonwealth's evidence would have proven that at approximately 9:50 p.m. on June 3, 2018, Anthony Spence drove impaired and at a high rate of speed, causing a collision which killed the victim, Maria Grayson Fox. The victim was headed home after an evening spent with her family. Spence and his passenger left Shaka's, a bar at the Virginia Beach oceanfront, and traveled down Shore Drive to North Great Neck Road. Several witnesses described Spence's vehicle speeding past them and driving erratically, at estimated speeds of at least 80 m.p.h. Spence narrowly missed striking multiple vehicles. As the victim attempted to turn onto North Great Neck Road from River Road, Spence struck the driver's side of her vehicle at a high-rate of speed. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene. A witness jogging in the area at the time of the crash immediately ran to the scene, attempted to render aid, and called 911. He observed Spence stagger out of the vehicle and crawl away from the scene on his hands and knees. He also saw the passenger exit the vehicle and walk down North Great Neck Road. A K-9 unit found Spence hiding in bushes at a house approximately sixty (60) yards from the scene. Blood evidence was collected from Spence at the hospital two hours after the crash. That blood sample was submitted to the state laboratory. Forensic analysis determined that Spence's blood had an ethanol serum level of 0.194. If converted into a more typical "whole blood" B.A.C, that number would be approximately 0.165. A toxicologist would have testified that extrapolating back to the time of the crash two hours prior, the actual BAC at the time of the crash would be as high as 0.205. The blood analysis also found trace amounts of Alprazolam (Xanax) and Amphetamine in the Spence's system.The airbag control module was recovered from Spence's vehicle and its data was downloaded. It showed that Spence drove at speeds up to 113 m.p.h. in the five (5) seconds leading up to the crash and that his speed at impact was 86.4 m.p.h.Spence has prior convictions for Burglary, Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine, Reckless Driving, Drug Paraphernalia, and Trespassing. Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney David W. Laird prosecuted this case. At the sentencing hearing today he enumerated for the judge a variety of aggravating factors, including Spence's criminal history, his pattern of dangerous driving prior to the crash, and his attempt to crawl away from the scene after the crash. Laird argued that the case could be summed up by reference to the number "2.5" because Spence was driving at 2.5 times the speed limit and with 2.5 times the "legal limit" of alcohol in his system when the crash occurred. In imposing the maximum sentence, Judge Lilley called the defendant's actions callous and inexcusable. Please contact Macie Allen if additional information is desired.