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Fairfax Man Convicted in Ballston Hit and Run Case

by ARLnow.com July 27, 2012 at 4:45 pm 8,395 73 Comments

A Fairfax County man has been convicted and sentenced to more than four years in prison for a hit and run pedestrian accident that left a young woman seriously injured.

John Reynolds was 24 at the time of his arrest in March 2011. He was accused of hitting a 22-year-old woman with his car while driving drunk on Fairfax Drive, near the Ballston Metro station, on December 30, 2010. Reynolds sped away from the scene of the near-fatal accident, but detectives were able to use debris from his car to track him down and arrest him.

Reynolds — who studied psychology and criminal justice at Old Dominion University — was charged with hit and run and DUI maiming. Following a three-day trial that started on Monday, an Arlington County jury found Reynolds guilty on both charges yesterday (Thursday) afternoon. Today the jury sentenced Reynolds to 4 years and 3 months in prison, plus a $2,500 fine.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jay Burkholder, who prosecuted the case with fellow Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jennifer Clarke, said Reynolds’ “level of intoxication” played a role in the jury’s decision-making. Reynolds did not testify at the sentencing hearing, Burkholder said.

The victim of the accident suffered what Burkholder described as “very serious” injuries to her hip and legs. She also suffered nerve damage.

“Due to some fantastic doctors at Inova Fairfax Hospital she survived and is walking today,” Burkholder said. “She is doing much better, but will always face some physical challenges from this crime.”

Reynolds is being held at the Arlington County jail pending a formal sentencing hearing in September, when a judge will have the option of suspending part of his sentence.

  • novasteve

    My lord he looks like the love child of Al Bundy and Buffalo Bill (Jame Gumb) from silence of the lambs.

  • barryballston

    I’m confused. If they did not track him down and arrest him until March 2011 how did they determine his “level of intoxication” on 12/30/2010? Hit and run, yes. But how do you prove drunk driving?

    • Bob

      He must have really drank a lot that night.

      • Louise

        Must have drunk, not drank.

    • Richard Cranium

      That’s a really good question. The only thing* I can come up with is that he told them how much he had had to drink.

      * As with most random unfounded speculation, this was extracted from my posterior and is 100% the product of my imagination.

    • dudeguy01

      Perhaps witnesses from the bar/party he was leaving testified that they saw him drinking heavily and/or stumbling like a fool?

    • DB

      My guess would be they did a blood test the night of the accident and didn’t actually place charges on him until march

  • That guy is 25/26? Wow, looks much older – more like a balding Bobby Flay

    • Wavy Gravy and the Mashed Potatoes

      Worse. That mugshot was published when he was arrested, so that’s him at 24.

      • Al Gore

        That was a rough 24.

  • Rick

    Witness accounts of him at the bar/party he became intoxicated at, scene witnesses that may have seen swerving etc.

    It’s nice to see the girl recovered. I hope Mr Reynolds gets a nice tour of Sussex.

  • CW

    I can’t decide whether to be disgusted that it takes our legal system 16 months to get to this point, or grateful that he had an extra 16 months of punishment because he deserves a lot longer than 4+ years for what he did (and he’ll only get that if the judge isnt nice).

    Hope the young woman recovers every penny she can get through civil channels.

    • Josh S

      Vote to legalize marijuana. It’ll free up a substantial portion of our criminal justice system…..

  • Don

    He won’t have any extra punishment. If he’s been jailed during that time it’ll be credited against his sentence. However it’s possible he’s spent much of that time out on bail; the article doesn’t specify.

    • CW

      Yeah, i meant walking around scared of what was coming. Still light though for ruining a life.

  • RanomDude

    It’s Al Bundy!

    It has taken them a long time but credit is due to actually tracking him down, unless he turned himself in or someone recalled his license plate.

    • Greg

      That’s an insult to Al Bundy.

      To look that old at 24, I would guess he’s seen his share of other serious recreational drugs.

  • SomeGuy

    I almost expressed kudos to ARLNow for waiting until a conviction before publicizing a mugshot. But then I realized he didn’t:

  • JamesE

    He sold shoes and scored four touchdowns in one game

    • Polk High Alumnus

      He was the greatest.

  • Rob

    Are we sure this didn’t happen in Fairlington?

  • Chris B

    Only 4 years in prison is a disgrace for a DUI hit and run. Should have been 20 years at least.

    • Greg

      I agree 4 years feels light but there are a lot of people out there who are menaces (with or without alcohol) getting a year for heinous crimes. Prisons are overcrowded and if I can get an extra year for 16 rapists or child predators, I’d gladly take that in exchange for 16 fewer years for this guy. It’s a sad trade off to make but it’s the reality we live in.

      Further, the difference between 4 and 20 years in terms of how someone comes out of jail is huge. At 4 years, you’re on your best behavior and have a goal to improve yourself and exit. At 20, you’re better off becoming a lifer and succumbing to the lifestyle everyone else leads — and you’re even more dangerous upon exit.

      We’re better off as a society if prison is focused on rehab, not punishment. 4 years still sucks, but it’s a reason to rehab. At 20, it’s tougher.

      • Mary-Austin

        You make an interesting point.

      • Elmer

        As long as he never gets a driver’s license again. He’s forfeited that privilege. Yes, I said privilege-not a right.

        • drax

          I don’t know many people who think a driver’s license (note the term) is a right.

          • Elmer

            Then you’d be surprised to learn that sometimes when the court orders a driver’s license revoked or when that rare couragous parent goes to the DMV to have their recalcitrant teenager’s license forfeited, the reaction is:
            You can’t take my license, that’s mine.
            For some, its the first time they’ve ever been told NO.

          • Josh S

            Says you.

      • Chris B

        Fair point.

    • Matt

      the guy made a mistake. 4 years is MORE than enough for a non-fatal mistake.

      • leaveareply

        until it happens to you…

        • Josh S

          Would it be wise for the victims to decide the punishment? Just sort of speaking generally about how one should construct a criminal justice system…..

          • WeiQiang

            No, but I think that – indirectly – victims [and people concerned about becoming victims] do influence sentencing laws and sentencing in particular cases. Look at Texas and its propensity for throwing the book at folks (and the alarming rate of vacated convictions/death sentences) compared to states that don’t subscribe to the Texas leitmotif.

            Sociological data [from what I recall … I’m not going to look for links] suggests that draconian prosecution and sentencing don’t improve recidivism or the communities that are being served.

      • Chris B

        “The guy” ruined someone else’s life.

        DUI is not a mistake, it is a very dangerous crime.

      • Umm… No

        DUI is not a mistake. It’s a deliberate decision to endanger the lives of others.

        • Josh S

          Right. You’ve never driven over the legal limit? Or wait – you have, and you were intentionally trying to hit people that night? Jeez, that’s a scary thought…..

      • drax

        Non-fatal, but this lady may have pain or limited mobility her whole life.

      • Jason S.

        Hitting a pedestrian (who might be in the wrong) is an accident, DUI and leaving the scene of an accident are willful decisions. He should permanently lose his license.

  • JimPB

    No restitution for the victim is no justice for her.

    A shame: no community service requirement to present extensively about the consequences of DUI.

    Prior alcohol-related offenses? If so, a part of the sentence should have been a lengthy requirement to have and use an ignition interlock device on any vehicle(s) he owns or leases or is allowed by drive by an employer so that he can drive only if not legally intoxicated (best if the alcohol level were set very low).

    How to prevent? One step: Enable patrons to be informed about their status by requiring bars to have alcohol breath analyzers readily available and to encourage patrons to use, especially but not exclusively as they are leaving.

  • awesomepossom

    Hitting someone with your car is not a mistake. It’s a huge freaking deal. 4 years is generous to this POS.

    • Josh S

      The funny thing is your first two sentences are not mutually exclusive.

  • g

    WHAT!?! Only 4 years!!! A woman cut me off, then stopped in front of me, for NO reason, and I ran into the back of her car. I got out to check on her, and she got out and started cursing me out! I got so mad, that I got back in my car and left. I also got charged w/ hit and run. I was sentenced, in Arlington, to 18 months! But he only got 4 years!?! Was his sentence too small, or was mine too big?

    • Mary-Austin

      Yours was too small. You never hit and run!

      • g

        Mary-Austin: If I had known the law, all I had to do was write down my name and give it to her, and it wouldn’t have been hit and run. 18 months in prison, for not writing down my name. No injury, just minor damage to her rear end. You think that’s worth 18 months in prison? Do you have any idea how long that is to be away from your family? My mistake was not paying for an expensive lawyer. I underestimated how stupid the jurors could be, 12 idiots that think like you.

        • g

          I do agree that you never hit somebody and leave w/o checking on the person, but I didn’t do that. People hear “Hit and Run”, and assume you ran over some old lady, dragged her down the street, and left her to die.

        • NPD Blue

          Just for the record the Arlington County Public Defender handled the case .. not a high priced lawyer

          • g

            Just for the record, the Arlington County Public Defenders Office is a team of lawyers, not one person. Some of them very competent, but mostly people first starting out.

          • NPD Blue

            My point was that he didn’t have “high priced” lawyers .. but as you state a team who although “first starting out” must have done an excellent job to mitigate the case to only 4 years.

      • Elmer

        ” I got so mad, that I got back in my car and left.”

        Bottom line: You let her push your button and you reacted by driving off.
        Anger management needed on your part? Would have saved you a lot of problems, time and money

    • Elmer

      Never mind what she did, you sir, are in serious in need of anger management. Your emotions are your responsiblity to control.

      • g

        Definitely a huge mistake, but I don’t have a problem w/ anger, I’ve got a problem w/ stupid people. LOL!

        • Ralph

          The court system thought otherwise.

          • g

            Hurray Captain Obvious!

          • g

            Oh and is that why they sentenced me to Anger Management? Oh wait, they didn’t. They sent me to prison. So I guess that the court system DIDN’T think otherwise. Huh RALPH? So now, your smart alec statement just sounds really dumb. Just like your name. Huh RALPH?

  • Joe

    He’s only 25? Ouch. Looks a little… older.

  • ARL Res

    G, all I can say is Arlington has never taken hit and run’s lightly. 4 years seems appropriate for this man’s actions, 18 months seems ridiculous for yours. I hit a parked car last year at about 11 am, left a note, but went home. Next day I thought I would do the right thing and contact Arlington police just so there was a record of the accident and my insurance could help pay for the damage. I was arrested with a hit and run of an unattended vehicle. I was originally sentenced to a 6 month suspension, 6 months in jail, and ASAP because they assumed I was drunk and although they couldn’t prove it, Burkholder always will try and tack on a DUO. I appealed and the sentance was reduced to 3 months and a 1 month suspension. But still, I contacted Arlington, I didn’t believe I committed a hit and run. But hey, that’s Arlington for you.

    • g

      See? That’s ridiculous! They have a nice big jail, with LOTS of empty beds, so they try to fill them. But hold up a second. If you left a note, then it wasn’t a Hit and Run. You had to do 3 months, in jail, for that?

    • theterror

      I want case numbers from G and ARL Res. I find it hard to believe that these factual scenarios as you have laid them out can possibly have resulted in these sentences. It just seems massively unfair.

      • Bon Air


        I committed a hit and run when I was 18, I got no jail time and no conviction.

        Just did a s–t ton of community service and paid restitution. The arrest is still on my record though.

        Guess a lot depends on the prosecutor, the victim’s wishes, etc.

        • Bon Air

          Mine was in Fairfax County, FYI

      • g

        I agree. I don’t have the case number, but my accident occurred in October of 2007, and I was convicted in July of 2008. I hope that helps but, I can assure you, I explained my case exactly how it happened.

  • g

    While I was in jail, I heard about a couple that stole some stuff from a store and, while being chased by Fairfax police, hit a car and kept going. Now THAT is a Hit and Run! The driver got 12 months of misdemeanor time, which means he did 6 months in jail. My 18 months was felony time, meaning that I had to do 15 months in prison. I was in a maximum security prison (Mecklenburg), w/ Bloods, Crips, and MS-13, people doing serious time. Just doesn’t make sense.

  • soarlslacker

    It sounds like this person hit a young woman with his car and drove off to try to avoid the consequences of his stupid behavior. Who called 911? Who got help for the victim? Justice would be after this person completes his jail time that he can never drive a car again, but it appears that VA laws don’t allow for that.
    Remember when a guy in a pick-up truck struck and killed a woman and her dog in N Arlington?
    He got 12 months suspended and 6 months of no driving. Where is the justice? You can use a car as a weapon against people and just go on about your life? It would appear that injuring or killing pedestrians has little to no consequences here sometimes. What does the VA legislature spend its time on? It isn’t protecting pedestrians from fools and drunks, or punishing those who injure others? How about the this drunk fool has to pay each and every medical bill for the woman they hit forever.
    Run fast when you cross the street…so you are not dead or in debt the rest of your life trying to pay your medical bills.

    • Dan

      This incident reminded me of that one as well.
      That person literally got away with murder…..

      • The voice in your head

        Your abilities to telepathically receive thoughts from people removed in time and space from yourself are truly amazing. You shouldn’t hide them anymore. Maybe you could be on a reality show. Wouldn’t that be cool! You could call it Brainiac or something like that…..

    • dk (not DK)

      There is no comparison in these cases. In this case, the driver was under the influence, in the other the driver was not. In this case, the driver left the scene, in the other the driver did not.

      What these cases do have in common: in neither was the driver using his “car as a weapon against people.” That would be deliberately attempting to run someone down, and there is absolutely NO evidence that this occurred in either case.

  • “detectives were able to use debris from his car to track him down and arrest him.”

    Wow, how do they do this with so many cars in the area? Plus, some many cars are identical? Do we leave DNA all over our cars or what??

    I’m serious- how did they do this??

    I am glad the woman is OK but I’m sorry she will have life-long issues.

    • Dan

      Don’t know if this is what happened here, but car’s VIN numbers are printed in various places throughout the car.
      If one of the parts found at the scene had a VIN number that would be one way that they could have found him.
      (VIN=vehicle identification number=unique for every vehicle.)

      • aha – that would definitely help the police. Thanks!

      • Jim

        Most cars also have proprietary paint colors/paint composition from the factory, so a paint chip can sometimes narrow down a car to a make/year. If there is a partial license plate or other info from a witness or camera to combine with that, it can narrow the pool way down right off the bat.

  • leaveareply

    drivers, they think they’re invisible.

  • JimPB

    RE: report before us in ARLNow.com

    Good points about the effect of length of prison sentence on successfully re-entering society.

    The immediate sentence for incarceration should be long enough to send a message about the seriousness of the offense. That’s arguably 1-3 years. A much longer sentence, say 10-25 years, should be imposed and then suspended contingent upon (a) the person not getting convicted again for DUI during the duration of the suspended sentence and (b) fulfilling the other other requirements of the sentence.

    The other elements of the sentence could and should appropriately include things like:

    restitution to the victim for pain & suffering and lost income

    community service, presenting about the impacts of DUI in his case, and in other cases

    if there are other DUI offenses or evidence of frequent heavy drinking, then a very lengthy requirement of an ignition interlock on any vehicle that he owns or leases or an employer allows him to drive so that he will be able to drive only when his blood alcohol level is low (best, zero)

  • looks like someone pulled a hit & run on his face….. burnnnnn yeah


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