County man pleads guilty to involuntary manslaughter in death of his friend in accident

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By Tom Wilmoth

    A 22-year-old Goodview man pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to involuntary manslaughter, in connection with a single-vehicle accident last year that killed a Bedford man.
    Durham Westley Falabella, who is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 21, could face from one to 10 years in prison on the involuntary manslaughter conviction and 12 months in jail on a misdemeanor driving under the influence conviction.
    Falabella entered the pleas in Bedford County Circuit Court; he was indicted on the charges in April.
    The accident occurred last Nov. 27, around 12:15 p.m., on Otter Hill Road.

According to the Virginia State Police, Falabella was driving a 1994 Buick Century northbound on the road when he took a curve too fast. He ran off the road and struck a tree, ejecting his front-seat passenger, Evan Patrick Nichols, 21, of Bedford. Nichols was pronounced dead at the scene.
    According to Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney John Wheelock, Falabella admitted at the accident scene that he was the driver, stating to State Police investigators that he had been drinking prior to the accident.
    He consented to a blood test, in which his blood alcohol level was .11.
    Wheelock said he expects the victim’s mother to testify for the defense at the sentencing hearing, stating that Nichols and Falabella were childhood friends.
    “That doesn’t excuse his driving and drinking,” Wheelock said.
    He expects the sentencing guidelines to recommend a prison sentence.
    Wheelock said while Falabella showed remorse and has taken responsibility for his actions by entering pleas on the charges, it was “a very serious incident; it involves a homicide,” he said.
    Falabella has been out on a $10,000 secured bond since being charged.