Drunk Drivers Sentenced to Prison Time in Accident that Killed One, Injured Another; Commonwealth v. Dennis Brito; Commonwealth v. Charles Chevez Hazer

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Colin D. Stolle, Commonwealth's Attorney for the city of Virginia Beach, announced that Dennis Brito, 35 years old, formerly of the 400 block of Jean Court in Norfolk, Virginia was sentenced by Circuit Court Judge Glenn R. Croshaw for charges of DUI Manslaughter, DUI Maiming, DUI, and Failure to Yield While Making a Left Turn.  Judge Croshaw sentenced Brito to 15 years and 365 days in prison with eight (8) years and 365 days suspended leaving seven (7) years to serve, plus a fine of $700.   This sentence exceeded the recommendation of the Virginia State Sentencing Guidelines which called for a sentence of no more than six (6) years and ten (10) months. Brito was found guilty of these charges by Judge Croshaw following a trial in October 2016.

Judge Croshaw also sentenced Charles Chevez Hazer, age 34, of the 3000 block of Trail Bend Drive in Chesapeake, Virginia for charges of DUI Manslaughter, DUI Maiming, and DUI.  Hazer was sentenced to 15 years and 365 days in prison with ten (10) years and 365 days suspended, leaving five (5) years to serve, plus a $500 fine.  Judge Croshaw remarked that Hazer's sentence was shorter because he spent the last two years at Edgehill Recovery Center getting treatment for alcoholism and mentoring and treating other addicts.  Further, Hazer pled guilty on October 25, 2016 and accepted responsibility for the crimes very early on in the judicial process.

The Commonwealth's evidence proved that on April 12, 2015, Charles Hazer and Dennis Brito were both driving while intoxicated.  Hazer was driving a 2004 Ford Mustang northbound on Newtown Road at approximately 2:30 a.m. He had a passenger in his front seat.  As he entered the intersection of Newtown Road and Greenwich Road in the City of Virginia Beach, he struck Brito's 2008 Chevrolet Malibu, which had come into his path after Brito failed to yield while making a left turn.  Hazer's speed was estimated to be between 61 and 70 m.p.h. at the point of impact, and the speed limit was 35 m.p.h.  Neither driver was significantly injured; however, Brito's backseat passenger, Heidi Jo Friedman, died at the scene.  His front seat passenger suffered significant injuries including nine broken ribs, a broken pelvis, two collapsed lungs, fractured femur, and a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).  She was comatose for three and a half weeks and remained hospitalized for several days afterwards.  She has had many hospitalizations and procedures since and continues to struggle with her TBI.  She had been employed in active duty with the Navy at the time, but has had to leave that career due to the injuries sustained during the accident.  Hazer's front seat passenger was not significantly injured.

A DUI investigation revealed that both drivers were intoxicated.  Hazer's Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) was .156 and Brito's was between .14 and .16. 

Hazer has prior convictions for Drunk in Public and Reckless Driving.

This case was prosecuted by Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Sara R. Chandler and Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jill T. Bennett.  Please contact Macie Allen for additional information.