A man who led authorities on a high speed chase, which led to a deadly crash, through Carroll County, in Virginia, was sentenced for a misdemeanor reckless driving charge and felony elude charge on Wednesday.
Joseph Lambert was originally charged with felony eluding police that resulted in the death of a police officer for that 2017 pursuit.
Authorities were attempting to stop Lambert on I-77, but he refused to stop.
Deputy Curtis Bartlett was assisting in the pursuit when he was hit and killed by a tractor trailer making a left turn.
Lambert was sentenced to a total of 2 years, but will likely be released later this week for time served since he’s been incarcerated since 2017. He received 12 months for the reckless driving charge, and five years with four years suspended on the felony elude charge.
A judge previously ruled that Lambert could not be held criminally responsible for Bartlett’s death.
“I argued that the death should still be considered as an aggravating factor, but it was not a factor that could elevate it up to a Class 4 felony,” Stephanie Vipperman, Commonwealth’s Attorney for Patrick County, said.
At the sentencing hearing, Vipperman also noted Lambert’s past criminal history which dated back to the age of 13.
Lambert’s defense attorney, Jonathon Venzie, countered that it was a relatively low speed chase in terms of high speed pursuits. He also noted that Lambert used turn signals during the chase.
Lambert spoke briefly during his sentencing as well. He told Judge David Melesco that he had a job lined up once he was released and that he had two young girls who were in foster care and that they served as his motivation to learn from his past mistakes.
“Joseph’s heart was broken that his stupidity could have set in motion what happened, even though legally they’re not connected. It’s a horrible, horrible event,” defense attorney Venzie said.
Sam Bartlett, father of Curtis Bartlett, said that his life has been completely altered since his son died in the crash. But he said he does not hold Lambert personally responsible.
“This happened. We don’t fully understand why. But because of our faith, we know that God can bring good out of bad situations,” Bartlett said. “My story is being rewritten and so I hope that happens for [Joseph Lambert] and for his family.”
Bartlett said that he and others are working on opening a fitness center in Curtis’ memory. Curtis was an athlete who believed in the importance of physical fitness.
Bartlett holds to his faith and to a glimmer of hope that the memory of his son will continue to positively impact others.
“That’s what we’re trying to do. To live just as courageously as he did,” Bartlett said.