Accident – Death – Obituary News : Virginia Beach Man Sentenced to Nearly 11 Years in Prison for DUI Crash at Book Store
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — A Virginia Beach man, Joseph Grillo, was recently sentenced to almost 11 years in prison for a horrific DUI crash that occurred in December 2022. The crash took place at the Providence Square Shopping Center, where Grillo, who was five times over the legal drinking limit, crashed into a book store, pinning two shoppers inside, including a pregnant woman.
The sentencing decision, announced by the Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney Office on Tuesday, has caught the attention of many as it “greatly exceeds the high end of the Virginia State Sentencing Guidelines,” according to prosecutors. The guidelines had recommended a sentence no longer than two years and one month for Grillo’s offenses.
Judge Steven Frucci, who presided over the case, expressed his concern about the severity of Grillo’s actions, stating, “This is the type of behavior that should keep the citizens of Virginia Beach up at night.”
Grillo pleaded guilty in late July 2023 to charges of DUI maiming – permanent injury, DUI maiming – serious injury, and DUI. The crash occurred when Grillo was speeding and drove through the front entrance of Smith Discount Books, causing extensive damage to the store and injuring the two customers, identified as S.F. and M.C., according to prosecutors.
S.F., who was 25 weeks pregnant at the time, was sitting down when Grillo plowed through the store, trapping her against a bookshelf and vending machine. She suffered lacerations on her back and a hip injury but thankfully delivered a healthy baby later on. M.C., on the other hand, was pinned against a table and bookshelf, resulting in a fractured tibia. She underwent surgery and had a metal rod placed in her leg, which left her wheelchair-bound for several months.
When authorities arrived at the scene, they noticed Grillo displaying signs of intoxication. A Virginia Beach police officer reported that Grillo had a strong smell of alcohol, slurred speech, and watery, glassy eyes. During their conversation, Grillo admitted to having a drinking problem and revealed that he had consumed suboxone and strong bourbon, 40-proof, nearly six hours prior to the crash.
According to the Commonwealth’s Attorney Office, Grillo’s blood alcohol content was measured at .402 on the night of the crash, which is five times the legal limit. This revelation further solidified the severity of his actions and the danger he posed to others on the road.
It is worth noting that Grillo has a history of alcohol-related offenses, including convictions for public intoxication and reckless driving.
The sentencing decision has drawn attention to the importance of stricter penalties for DUI offenses and the need for increased awareness about the dangers of drunk driving. As the Virginia Beach community reflects on this tragic incident, it serves as a stark reminder of the potential consequences of irresponsible behavior behind the wheel.
The Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney Office hopes that this sentence will send a strong message to deter others from driving under the influence and prevent future accidents and injuries caused by intoxicated individuals..