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Road Rage?


Last Edited: February 20, 2007, 3:14 pm

This story is on many sites and online newspapers.  I copied this from starnewsonline.com, but it's also on Yahoo and some sites show the source as the Associated Press.
I hate it when people throw objects out of cars, especially burning cigarettes.  However, 2 years in jail when there were no injuries is a bit extreme, don't you think?
Mom gets jail time for thrown cup of ice

Stafford, Va. | A 25-year-old mother of three from North Carolina faces up to two years in prison this week for an incident of road rage that has become known as the "McMissile" case.

Jessica Hall, of Jacksonville, was convicted by a Stafford County jury of maliciously throwing a missile into an occupied vehicle, a felony in Virginia. The instructions given to the jury said that any object propelled by force can be considered a missile. In Hall's case, it was a McDonald's cup filled with ice.

The jury gave Hall the minimum sentence of two years in prison. A judge will formally impose a sentence Wednesday. Under state law, the judge can only decrease the jury's sentence. Hall, whose husband is serving his third tour in Iraq, has spent more than a month in jail.

On a sticky day in July, Hall was driving north on Interstate 95 with her children and her sister, who was six months pregnant and having early contractions. Traffic had slowed to a crawl, when, she said, another car cut her off twice. Angered, she flung the cup into the other car, where it flew across the driver and landed all over his girlfriend.

"We didn't think it would go this far," Hall told The Washington Post in an interview at the Rappahannock Regional Jail. "Two years! What did I do?"

The driver of the other car, Pete Ballin, 36, and his girlfriend, Eliza Fowle, 28, were heading home to the District after visiting her father in North Carolina.

"It was gross and sticky and got all over me and the front of our car, the dashboard and the windshield," Fowle said of the launched drink.

Fowle stands by the couple's decision to report the crime but said even she and Ballin were surprised at the conviction.

"I think that this is way too much of a punishment for her actions. This is just to me absolutely ridiculous," Fowle said. Community service would have made more sense, she said.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney George Elsasser argued in court that had Ballin been hit by the drink, he might have gotten into a serious accident with injuries.

Hall, who was driving from North Carolina to New York for a family party, said she was trying to keep up with her father's truck when Ballin cut in front of her the second time, causing her to swerve onto the shoulder.

She said her next move was wrong, but she never thought it would land her in jail for the first time in her life.

"I must have been wrong . . . but seriously, God. Lesson learned," she said.
Entry #38


Rick GComment by Rick G - February 20, 2007, 8:16 pm
Interesting story, Nancy. You have to wonder where common sense has gone lately.
truecriticComment by truecritic - February 21, 2007, 8:25 am
Not sure where the sentencing guide lines are but I happen to agree with you on this one.   No harm to anyone should be a slap on the wrist - a simple traffic ticket in this case.

However just a few days back in your blog you were willing to give 10 years or more to someone involving an animal? People that kill people are sometimes out in less than that.   Each of us have their "favorite" type of criminal that we want to give the "death sentence" to (so to speak).
justxploringComment by justxploring - February 21, 2007, 12:30 pm
No, True Critic. I didn't want to get specific because the crime for so horrific. First, I do think this woman who threw the cup of ice was guilty, but 2 years in jail is excessive, considering that she is the only parent taking care of her children while her husband is serving in Iraq. Paying a fine, hours of community service and even a few days in jail might have scared her, but nobody was hurt. It was a reaction to stress, not a planned crime where she tortured any person or animal. She threw an empty cup she had from McDonald's. It has some ice in it. Yes, it definitely needed to be addressed, since she could have distracted the other driver, causing an accident. But this was not an act of violence, and even the "victims" who were covered with sticky soda were shocked at her punishment. This is why mandatory sentences often don't work. Not every crime is so black & white. There are gray areas, like this one. Believe me, if she threw something at me, I'd want her punished.

Since you asked, 2 men ages 19 and 17 broke into a new recreation center and trashed it, destroying property. While they were there, they found a 5 month old puppy. This was someone's pet, for God's sake! They tied the puppy up with masking tape and rope so it couldn't move, muzzled him with duct tape, and poured paint on him. Then they set him on fire. He was still alive and struggling, so they turned on a gas oven and put the puppy insidethe burning hot oven. They then brought younger children to the site and showed them the dead puppy, who forensic experts say struggled in agony until he was cooked to death. They threatened these children with bodily harm to them and their families if they told anyone about the puppy. These children were interviewed by the police and testified.

Being familiar with your some of your opinions on similar subjects, I realize you're not exactly an animal lover. However, these were grown men who had no regard for the suffering of a living creature. Most serial killers, including Jeffrey Dahmer, torture animals before they murder people. They would have served time anyway for the destruction of property, since they trashed the recreation center. However, their heinous act of animal abuse and the way they bragged about it, plus their treatment of the local kids, certainly demonstrates a pattern of violence which could be later inflicted on children or other adults.

When do you think we should stop criminals? I mean, I hear all the time "he hasn't hurt anyone" when a drunk driver is arrested. After he finally kills a family, then everyone complains "why didn't we do something sooner?" This applies to child molesters, who are released from prison after they "serve their time" as if they will be cured. Do I think prison is the place for 2 men who might possibly be rehabilitated? Of course not. It doesn't work. However, after reading what I just told you about their crime, would you want them living in your neighborhood? Would you feel safe if you had young children, knowing such violent people are roaming the streets freely? I think they should be also punished under the Patriot Act for terrorizing the neighborhood.

In my humble opinion, they got off easy... I would have said "an eye for an eye" and thrown them both into a pot of boiling water. (I don't think they'd fit into the oven.)
justxploringComment by justxploring - February 21, 2007, 12:33 pm
Oops! Typo. First sentence should read "because the crime was so horrific."
Coin TossComment by Coin Toss - February 21, 2007, 12:34 pm
People shouldn't be sent to jail because others drivers are idiots on the road.
justxploringComment by justxploring - February 21, 2007, 12:53 pm
I'm not sure I agree with you, Coin Toss. Last night on the 11:00 news they were showing local cops stopping people who wre driving recklessly (very relative term) to get around slower drivers or tailgating. We all need to obey the law. I get frustrated when I'm stuck in back of a driver I wish would move along a little quicker, but I grin & bear it until I get to a safe place where it's legal to pass. If someone cuts me off, I might write down a license plate, but I'd never get involved in a dispute.

Okay - I'm a liar. I admit that one time a woman was trying to run me off the road with her Escalade on a side street called Vanderbilt Drive. Since I received a $200+ ticket on that exact road for going 42mph, I was being cautious, but I was traveling at the speed limit, or even a little faster. We finally got to a light and I ran out and knocked on her window. She rolled it down and said "My husband is having a heart attack." I glanced over and he really did sick, and we were heading in the direction of the North Naples hospital, so I just said "God Bless, I hope he's okay, but you probably should have called an ambulance since you could have gotten all of us killed."
truecriticComment by truecritic - February 21, 2007, 1:36 pm
Did I say the woman that threw the ice wasn't guilty? Don't think so.

Should we put people in prison for "what might have happened?" or what someone "might do" in the future? No.

I said that since there was no serious damage, she should get the equivalent of a traffic ticket.    And I do believe in victims rights - much more so than the Government ever did or does. She should also pay to have the car cleaned up of the "gross and sticky" fluids.

I would go one more step...the people that cut her off twice, should also be found guilty and ticketed.    I would GENERALLY agree with the statement Coin Toss made.   In this particular case, no one hurt, no accident caused = minor sentences.

"I realize you're not exactly an animal lover"
That is your quote and you make it sound like I would condone the story about the puppy.    Nothing could be farther from the truth.

That is horrific.   I couldn't make up something like that in a nightmare if I tried!    At the same time, no one can correctly predict who the next Dahmer will be.    So to answer your question, "When do you think we should stop criminals?"

We should stop them when they are proven to have committed the crime.
Or there is overwhelming evidence that they are ready to commit a specific crime.

Otherwise, they should arrest EVERY gang member (which might not be a bad idea - lol).     The reason they don't is because they don't have proof of a crime.    You arrest for the specific crime when it happens.   You can't just arrest everyone based on preventing future crimes.   Again, unless there is overwhelming proof that a future crime is going to be committed.

Any animals I have had as pets and there have been many through the years were treated well and fed well.   But I don't put animals at such a high level as to give them the same rights as humans.   Animals are animals and while humans are also animals, I value humans above other animals.   Humans, in general.   Please don't put words in my mouth saying that I value the guys that tortured that puppy more than that puppy.   

Last word is yours, you know how I don't care to type out my point of view to the point it becomes a novel! :)
justxploringComment by justxploring - February 21, 2007, 7:52 pm
There must have been a misunderstanding. The way I read your first comment, you were saying I pick and choose the people I want punished. I was only responding to that comment.

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