SALEM, Va. - The man who hit and killed a Roanoke Army veteran and father while driving legally drunk found out Friday how long he’ll be in jail. A Roanoke County judge sentenced Evan Andrew Sarver to serve eight months.
Judge James Swanson said he tried to balance Sarver’s remorse with the need for consequences.
Under Virginia law, Sarver faced up to 10 years in prison. A presentencing report suggested a minimum of 10 months and a maximum of two years and 11 months.
In a May hearing, Sarver, 23, didn’t argue with the involuntary DUI manslaughter charge. He admits he hit 71-year-old Walter Ashley in the early-morning hours of April 27, 2017, on Williamson Road in the Hollins area after a night of drinking.
While crying, he described his feelings in court Friday.
“It has completely changed my life,” he told the judge. “I'm truly, truly and deeply, deeply remorseful and sorry for everything that happened.”
The decision comes about six months after Ashley’s widow, Carlissa Brooks-Ashley, hugged Sarver outside the courthouse. Through tears, he apologized and she accepted.
She said Friday that she’s okay with his sentence.
“I don't have any mixed emotions about the time. No amount of time he has is going to change anything,” she said. “He has to carry that the rest of his life. It's not going to be easy for him.”
Sarver’s mother said in court that her son regrets what happened.
“As you can see my son is broken. He carries an enormous amount of grief and guilt,” Barbara Anderson said.
The judge said this was a “difficult” case.
“There's nothing that can happen in this courtroom that can change the effects of that night,” Swanson said after delivering his ruling.
The defense argued for leniency in the closing arguments. The commonwealth's attorney made the case for a longer sentence.
Sarver will be on probation after his scheduled release in July.
3 1/2 hours after the collision, he registered a blood alcohol level of 0.12.
The commonwealth’s attorney gave details in court Friday that showed that Sarver's father texted him earlier that day in 2017 to warn him against drinking and driving.
There wasn’t any further discussion of the evidence showing whether or not Ashley was in the road when Sarver hit him. In May, the prosecution and the defense didn’t agree on exactly where the collision happened.
The prosecution said Ashley died instantly. He had a cut to his aorta, fractured ribs, injuries to his torso and both his arms and both his legs were broken. Ashley’s shoes were about 100 feet away from the collision and pictures shown in court show the location of his dentures at the scene.
Ashley was an Army veteran who moved to Roanoke County in May of 2006. He leaves behind four adult sons. His wife said he retired from the Army in 2003 and started working as a certified nursing assistant at Catawba Hospital and Hollins Manor. She said he was a caring man who looked out for his neighbors and his patients.
She said he had almost made it home from the hospital the night he died.
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