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Virginia man pleads guilty to destroying deputy's roadside memorial
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Virginia man pleads guilty to destroying deputy's roadside memorial

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PULASKI — A Dublin man pleaded guilty Tuesday to running over a roadside memorial to a Pulaski County sheriff's deputy who died in a crash.

John Logan Davidson, 21, was placed on probation for a year and ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation and follow its recommendations. Davidson also must pay a $500 fine, and his driver's license will be suspended for six months, Judge Erin DeHart ordered.

At the close of Davidson's hearing in Pulaski County General District Court, his attorney, Debbie Caldwell-Bono of Roanoke, said her client had not realized that the memorial he hit was for Sgt. Perry Hodge, who died in January in a head-on crash on U.S. 11.

"He made a very bad decision. … He has a great respect for law enforcement, and appreciation as well," Caldwell-Bono said.

The driver accused of running into Hodge, Michael Dominic Morris, 26, of Pulaski, faces an assortment of charges including felony murder and aggravated involuntary manslaughter, and is scheduled for a Thursday preliminary hearing, also in the county's general district court.

Davidson was charged after an incident on Feb. 14, one month after Hodge's death. According to county Sheriff Mike Worrell, the memorial was made up of flags and flowers and placed at the site of the wreck that killed Hodge.

On Tuesday, Davidson pleaded guilty to three offenses: intentional destruction of property valued at less than $1,000, reckless driving, and hit-and-run involving unattended property.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Nicole Cumberland outlined a plea agreement in which Davidson received a 12-month jail term for property destruction and 90 days for reckless driving. All of the jail time was suspended for 12 months, with a requirement that Davidson stay out of trouble during that time. He will be supervised by the probation office, Cumberland said. A $1,000 fine was recommended on the property destruction charge, with half of it suspended.

On the hit-and-run charge, Cumberland asked that DeHart take it under advisement for a year and dismiss it if Davidson stays on good behavior for a year.

DeHart imposed the punishment recommended in the plea agreement, setting a review hearing for the hit-and-run charge for June 7, 2022.

After Tuesday's hearing, Commonwealth's Attorney Justin Griffith emailed a statement to reporters, saying he appreciated Davidson accepting responsibility.

"The temporary memorial on Rt. 11 in memory of Sgt. Perry Hodge certainly means a lot to many people in this community, including my office. As someone who had no criminal convictions before today, we are hopeful and confident that Mr. Davidson abides by the Court’s orders and that his actions that day were an anomaly," Griffith wrote. "This case is a good example of how we don’t always know just how our actions can affect others."

 

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