Stephen Edwin Towe, 42, pleaded guilty Monday to aggravated involuntary manslaughter and two counts of the maiming of another as a result of driving while intoxicated.
Towe was driving a 2001 Oldsmobile Aurora, owned by his passenger, Denise Webb of Hillsville, when he struck a 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt driven by 19-year-old Ashley Nicole Whitaker of Woodlawn on Route 872, Woodlawn Road, about 300 yards west of U.S. 58, in October of last year.
According to Virginia State Police reports at the time, Towe passed another vehicle by crossing a solid line in a curve when he met Whitaker head on. Whitaker’s passenger, Jessica Ruth Bowyer, 26, of Middlesex, N.C., was killed at the scene of the accident.
Whitaker and Webb were taken to Twin County Regional Hospital in Galax before being transported to Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C. after the accident.
Represented by attorney Dawn Davis Cox, Towe pleaded guilty Monday to aggravated involuntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years, and the two counts of maiming of another as the result of driving while intoxicated. Both of those counts each carry a maximum sentence of five years.
Carroll County Circuit Court Judge Brett Geisler then sentenced Towe to the maximum sentence of 20 years in the Department of Corrections for the aggravated involuntary manslaughter charge and five years each for both maiming charges. Geisler then ordered Towe to serve 13 of the 20 years for the aggravated involuntary manslaughter charge with seven years suspended. The seven years will be served as active supervised probation. Geisler also suspended both five-year sentences for the maiming charges, but placed Towe on 10 more years of active supervised probation for those charges. He also ordered Towe to pay $50,000 of restitution to Ashley Nicole Whitaker.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Karen Ousley Boyer noted earlier in the case that both Whitaker and Webb had suffered permanent injuries as a result of the wreck.