A Spotsylvania man who fired three shots during a traffic altercation earlier this year on State Route 3 in the county was ordered Tuesday to serve five years in prison.
Charles Patrick Krieter, 32, was sentenced to a total of 10 years, with half of the time suspended. Krieter had previously pleaded guilty in Spotsylvania Circuit Court to attempted malicious wounding.
Judge Ricardo Rigual’s sentence far exceeded the recommended state sentencing guidelines, which called for no incarceration. Rigual said that the guidelines in this case were “woefully inadequate” for the “egregious” behavior Krieter exhibited that day.
According to the evidence, Krieter was near a Wawa on Route 3 the afternoon of Jan. 18 when a Honda pulled in front of him.
Krieter got back in front of the Honda, then got out and approached the 20-year-old driver at the next stoplight. The Honda struck Krieter’s vehicle as it left the scene, and Krieter responded by firing shots.
One shot entered the keyhole of the Honda trunk and ended up in the driver’s floorboard; a 19-year-old passenger was also in the Honda, but no one was injured.
Among those who witnessed the incident were a Washington police officer and a federal officer. The Washington officer went after the fleeing Honda, assuming it had been involved in a hit-and-run incident. The Honda was able to elude the officer.
It wasn’t until he returned to the scene that the officer realized that shots had been fired. He told his Spotsylvania counterparts that he thought the driver had a cellphone in his hand trying to get the license plate of the fleeing vehicle.
Krieter told police that he fired in an effort to stop the other driver from leaving the scene of the accident. It was Krieter who called 911 following the incident and he was still at the scene when deputies arrived.
Defense attorney Jason Pelt said that Krieter has shown remorse for his actions that day and had no prior criminal record. He pointed out that he has already spent eight months in jail, well above what sentencing guidelines called for.
Pointing toward the dozen or more friends and family members in court to support Krieter, Pelt asked Rigual for a sentence “that allows him to have dinner with those people tonight.”
Prosecutor Kelly Green did not request a specific sentence, but he argued that Krieter should not be rewarded just because he missed his target.
“He could have just as easily killed two kids in the middle of the road,” Green said.
Green said the Honda driver, who is Black, told him that his fear that day was becoming another George Floyd or Travon Martin, two African Americans killed in highly publicized incidents. Pelt took exception to the reference, saying that while Krieter used poor judgment, the incident had nothing to do with race.
Rigual said that even after reading testimonials from Krieter’s supporters about his good qualities, he could not overlook the fact that Krieter fired three shots “on one of the busiest roads in the area.”
Keith Epps: 540/374-5404