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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

Man gets 3-years in DUI, maiming case
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Joseph Brightwell

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

By K.A. WAGONER - Staff Writer

A Wirtz man will spend three years in jail after pleading guilty to maiming a Moneta woman as a result of driving under the influence of alcohol last August.

Joseph Kent Brightwell II, 45, pleaded guilty to a DUI first offense and the felony maiming charge Monday in Franklin County Circuit Court.

The Moneta woman suffered extensive injuries following a head-on collision on Route 122 on Aug. 27, 2010, according to Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Tim Allen.

The woman suffered a compound leg fracture, which required pins and rods to repair, broken ribs, a broken left arm and her spleen had to be removed, Allen said.

"She will never fully recover," Allen said.

Brightwell told the judge he was "ashamed" of himself.

"I have spoken with (the victim) several times to express my sorrow," he said. "I am very sorry. If I could trade places with her, I would. I would never hurt anyone intentionally."

"I want to be an example to others to take responsibility for their stupid decisions," Brightwell added.

Judge W.N. Alexander II told Brightwell he believed his statements were sincere.

"To your credit, you are taking responsibility for your actions," Alexander said.

Alexander sentenced Brightwell to the maximum on each charge -- 12 months on the misdemeanor DUI charge and five years on the DUI maiming charge. The judge suspended three years, contingent upon following the conditions of probation.

Brightwell was sentenced to two years probation and eight years of good behavior. His driver's license was also revoked, but Alexander said he could apply for a restricted license in three years and could petition the court to restore his license in five years.

The accident occurred on Aug. 17, 2010, when Brightwell was traveling south on Jubal Early Highway in a Ford F-250 pickup, Allen said. A witness said the pickup passed his vehicle on double yellow lines and the pickup ran off the right side of the roadway when pulling back into the right-hand lane.

Brightwell overcorrected and drove into the northbound lane, striking the victim's Hyundai Elantra head-on, Allen said.

The victim was airlifted to Carilion Roanoke Memorial. Brightwell was also transported to Roanoke Memorial for treatment, Allen said. When he arrived at the hospital, Brightwell's blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.18.

Allen told the judge Brightwell had no prior criminal record, and his DMV record had a positive three points.

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