Father sentenced in daughter’s death

Published 9:20 am Wednesday, October 8, 2014

In connection with an Oct. 26, 2013, crash that resulted in the death of a J.P. King Middle School student, the father was sentenced on Tuesday in Southampton County Circuit Court for aggravated involuntary manslaughter, DUI and three counts of child neglect/abuse to an active sentence of 21 years plus 12 months.

Tony Sledge, 45, of the 20000 block of General Thomas Highway, Newsoms, pled no contest to the charges.

At the time of the crash, Sledge was legally intoxicated, and he also admitted to hospital staff that he had consumed cocaine that morning. He was driving at speeds approaching 80 miles per hour on Route 258 south of Sycamore Church Road when, during a lane change, he lost control of a 2007 Chevrolet Impala, which flipped several times.

His daughter, Tonashea Sledge, died at the scene of the accident.

Sledge received a sentence of 20 years with 5 suspended on aggravated involuntary manslaughter. On each of the three counts of felony child neglect/abuse, he received 10 years with 8 suspended. On the DUI charge, he received 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. He was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $5,000 to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund for monies expended by the state to assist with funeral expenses. His operator’s license is also revoked.

He is to be of good behavior for 20 years upon release as well as supervised probation for an indefinite period.

“I am gratified by these sentences,” said Southampton County/Franklin Commonwealth Attorney Eric A. Cooke. “They send a strong and clear message. There is no room on our highways for those who are intoxicated. This tragedy was completely preventable and was caused entirely by the defendant’s lack of regard for the traveling public and his own family. A lengthy prison term was well deserved. If you’ve had too much to drink, don’t drive.”

The case was investigated by the Virginia State Police. Trooper D.F. Thornton and members of the Virginia State Police Crash Team did a very good job with this investigation, Cooke said, leading to the no contest plea.

The defendant was represented by K. Todryk of the Public Defender’s Office. Cooke handled the prosecution. The sentencing judge was Robert Curran, a retired judge.