A Spotsylvania County man who overdosed on drugs while driving was sentenced this week to 17 years and six months in prison in last year’s fatal hit-and-run wreck in Culpeper County.

Culpeper Circuit Judge Susan Whitlock on Thursday sentenced Earl Jackson Nicholson Jr., 38, to 31 years, with 13 years and six months suspended, in the Nov. 15, 2019, death of 54-year-old Pamela Mozingo of Culpeper, the Culpeper County commonwealth’s attorney’s office said in a statement.

Nicholson pleaded guilty in May to involuntary slaughter, two counts of felony maiming and driving while intoxicated.

As he drove north on Sperryvile Pike near Gibson Mill Road, his car crossed the center lane and struck Mozingo’s vehicle head-on, also seriously injuring her two adult sons.

Evidence showed Nicholson experienced a narcotics overdose at the time of the wreck, so Culpeper County sheriff’s deputies had to revive him with Narcan. His blood tested positive for high levels of fentanyl, morphine, cocaine, methamphetamine and amphetamine. The amount of fentanyl in his system was nearly double a fatal level, according to a toxicologist with the Virginia Department of Forensic Science.

“This is yet another tragic example of the dangers of narcotics in our community,” Culpeper County Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Walther said in a statement. “The careless actions of one individual have forever changed the lives of an entire family. The matriarch of a family is dead and her two sons will forever deal with the physical injuries caused by the defendant’s actions. This is simply something that never should have happened and will have a profound effect for all involved.”

Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Travis Owens prosecuted the case, highlighting the defendant’s long criminal history dating to 1999, including drug and probation violations, several larcenies and breaking and entering.

Thursday’s sentencing lasted nearly two hours and included testimony from the deceased woman’s mother, Nettie Compton, as well as Pamela Mozingo’s sons—surviving crash victims Joe Mozingo and Mark Southerland.

Compton spoke of her close relationship with her daughter and how much she was missed by her family. The grieving mother said she still finds herself waking up at 2 a.m., the same time she received the call from law enforcement about the fatal crash.

“Pam didn’t smoke, drink or do drugs; but those very things in the hands of someone else killed her anyway. A senseless death by someone who had no respect for anyone,” Compton said.

Owens asked Whitlock to send a message to the community that such behavior will not be tolerated in Culpeper. In her ruling, the judge mentioned the prosecutor’s request and said she hoped others would learn from the tragedy.

After his incarceration. Nicholson must demonstrate good behavior for 30 years, with the first five years being supervised probation. His ability to drive was indefinitely suspended by the court.

Nicholson was also seriously injured in the crash and transported by ambulance, but walked away upon arriving at the local hospital. He was later found at a home in Unionville in Orange County.

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