A man who wrecked his car and killed his girlfriend after driving more than 100 mph on a rural Spotsylvania County road pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter Tuesday.
Randolph T. Morningstar, 25, of Spotsylvania, wrecked his 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt on Lawyers Road off Courthouse Road on Christmas Eve, 2017. Cheyanne Marie Phillips, 20, died as the result of injuries sustained in the crash.
Morningstar also pleaded guilty in Spotsylvania Circuit Court to misdemeanor failure to appear in court. He will be sentenced Aug. 30.
According to the evidence presented by prosecutor Stephanie Fitzgerald, Deputy M. Goosman was in a parking lot on Courthouse Road early that morning when a dark vehicle went past him at a high rate of speed. The deputy estimated that the car’s speed at more than 100 mph.
Goosman pulled onto Courthouse Road with the intention of making a traffic stop, but the vehicle was already out of sight. Goosman drove all the way to the Louisa County on Courthouse Road but didn’t see the vehicle.
A short time later, Spotsylvania dispatchers were informed about a bad wreck on Lawyers Road. The Cobalt had run off the road, gone through a fence and appeared to have rolled over several times. Phillips was able to talk at the scene, but her condition deteriorated as she was being flown to a hospital and she died that day.
Morningstar told Goosman that he lost control of his vehicle as he rounded a curve. He denied being the driver that Goosman had seen a few minutes earlier, though Goosman recognized his vehicle as the one he had seen.
He later told Deputy Chris Smeal that he was doing the speed limit when he lost control. Smeal’s investigation, which included a review of the car’s Event Data Recorder, showed that Morningstar was traveling well above the posted 35 mph speed limit.
Had the case gone to trial, the evidence showed, the prosecution would have put on testimony from a inmate who was housed with Morningstar in the Rappahannock Regional Jail. The inmate told police that Morningstar told him that he and Phillips were arguing when he sped by a cop at about 120 mph.
He turned onto Lawyers Road to get away from the deputy. According to the inmate’s story, Phillips told Morningstar to slow down as they neared the curve and Morningstar responded, “be quiet, I got this.”
Morningstar and Phillips had had a baby boy together not long before the crash.