Woman convicted of involuntary manslaughter
FRONT ROYAL – A Circuit Court jury Wednesday convicted Brooke Nicole Spindle of involuntary manslaughter in the traffic death of her friend Holly Anne Smedley, 25.
The jury returned the verdict around 3 p.m. after about a day of deliberations that began late Tuesday afternoon, broke off at night and resumed Wednesday morning. The verdict was also accompanied by a recommendation that Spindle be sentenced to six months in jail and be fined $500, a recommendation that is subject to revision by Circuit Judge Ronald Napier at a final sentencing date.
State law calls for a sentence of one to 10 years imprisonment for involuntary manslaughter, a class five felony. But the law also allows a jury or a judge who tries a case without a jury to choose a sentence of no more than 12 months.
Spindle, 26, and Smedley were two of three occupants in a 2010 Ford F-150 pickup truck that crashed and rolled over on Browntown Road on Jan. 24, 2014. Smedley died a few hours later at Winchester Medical Center.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Layton said Spindle was driving the truck at the time of the crash. Jason Louderback, the owner of the truck and the third occupant of the vehicle, was a key witness for the prosecution.
Louderback, 32, had spent much of the day drinking and buying drinks for Spindle and Smedley at the Knotty Pine restaurant in Front Royal before the three went for a ride on a route that took them to Browntown Road.
Louderback testified that he reluctantly agreed to repeated requests by Spindle to drive the truck. Louderback, who had been driving, testified that he pulled off the road to urinate and found Spindle had moved from the passenger side of the truck to the driver’s side while he was outside.
The case was complicated by a head injury Spindle suffered during the crash. She testified that the crash robbed her of any memory of events on Jan. 24.
Bell attacked Louderback’s credibility at the trial, arguing that Louderback had ample incentive to avoid prosecution by telling authorities that the memory-impaired Spindle was driving his truck at the time of the crash.
Bell also contended that physical evidence collected at the scene fell short of what was needed to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The victim’s parents, Leonard and Cheryl Smedley, said in an interview that the jury had worked hard to reach a verdict.
“My family and I are grateful the jurors were so diligent in going over the evidence and taking all the time they needed to come up with a verdict,” Leonard Smedley said. “Finally Holly Anne Smedley can rest in peace now that justice has been done.”
Bell and members of the Spindle family left the courthouse without comment.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org