CHRISTIANSBURG — A driver who ran off the road last year in a wreck that killed his passenger pleaded guilty Wednesday to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to serve more than two years behind bars.
Preston Conner Jones, 25, was with his girlfriend, Mercedes Diane Scales, who was 24, when the crash occurred, defense attorney Jimmy Turk said after the hearing in Montgomery County Circuit Court. Jones initially was charged with intoxicated driving, then that was dropped and a charge of aggravated involuntary manslaughter was brought.
A plea agreement that Turk and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Obenshain presented Wednesday amended the charge to involuntary manslaughter, a change that dropped the maximum sentence from 20 years to 10.
Judge Mike Fleenor imposed the full 10 years, but said the prison time would be suspended after Jones served two years and three months. In addition, Jones is to be supervised by the probation office for five years after his release and to be on unsupervised probation for another five years, Fleenor said. Jones’ driver’s license was suspended indefinitely.
A sheriff’s office statement after the June 7, 2020, crash said that Jones’ 2017 Nissan Rogue ran off the road, went over an embankment and hit a tree. The single-vehicle crash occurred at about 6 a.m. in the 1500 block of Ellett Road, about a mile outside Christiansburg.
Jones, who has a Blacksburg address listed in court records, was allowed to work in Baltimore while awaiting trial. Scales was a former Christiansburg resident who had a Falls Church address when she died.