Front Royal man pleads guilty in passenger’s death

FRONT ROYAL — A Front Royal man pleaded guilty Monday to involuntary manslaughter in the traffic death of a woman in the passenger seat of his vehicle while he was driving with drugs in his system.

Trevor Bryant Lee, 29, entered the plea after the prosecution asked Circuit Judge Clifford L. Athey Jr. to amend the original charge from aggravated involuntary manslaughter. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Layton said the prosecution would have had a hard time proving that Lee recklessly disregarded the victim’s life, which would have been necessary to obtain a conviction on the more serious offense.

The case stems from an incident on Feb. 29, 2016 when Lee was driving his 1996 Honda Civic and picked up 23-year-old Brandi Cook, also of Front Royal. Lee’s vehicle began swerving on Remount Road in Front Royal and he crashed the car into a tree. Cook was pronounced dead at the scene, and the cause of death was determined to be severe head trauma.

Blood samples from Lee showed, among a number of other substances, the presence of THC and methamphetamine. Front Royal police also determined that there were no other contributing factors to the crash.

Lee, who is suffering from medical issues arising from the car crash, was unable to remain standing when Athey asked him questions about the plea agreement.

There were no sentencing recommendations in the plea agreement, so the judge ordered a pre-sentence investigation. The sentencing hearing  is set for Sept. 12.