Blacksburg mother convicted of DUI and manslaughter charges of newborn pleads no contest

A Blacksburg woman previously indicted on charges that she was driving drunk when she got into an accident that killed her unborn son pled no contest on Wednesday to involuntary manslaughter and driving under the influence.

Harmony Stair, 33, pled no contest and was found guilty in Montgomery County Circuit Court of involuntary manslaughter and driving under the influence in connection with the December 18, 2011 death of her newborn son.

According to a news release, Stair faces up to 10 years and 12 months in prison as penalty for the charges. There is reportedly no agreement between Stair and the Commonwealth as to the sentence she will receive.

In 2007, Stair had a prior conviction of driving under the influence in Montgomery County General District Court.

Stair’s attorney James C. Turk Jr. told the court that Stair is currently pregnant and requested that her sentencing be delayed until after the birth of the child. She remains out of jail on a secured bond pending preparation of a pre-sentence report by a probation officer.

Sentencing is set for September 4.

For more information, please see the press release included below.

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Harmony Stair, 33, of Blacksburg, pled no contest and was found guilty in Montgomery County Circuit Court of Involuntary Manslaughter and Driving under the Influence, a second offense, within 10 years, in connection with the December 18, 2011, death of her newborn son, Caiden. Stair was intoxicated and pregnant when she drove her car into the intersection of North Main Street and Route 460 in Blacksburg and was struck by a car headed North on Route 460. Stair faces up to 10 years in prison on each conviction. There is no agreement between Stair and the Commonwealth as to the sentence she will receive.

The Commonwealth offered evidence that Stair was driving on North Main Street and attempted to cross the intersection with Route 460. Stair pulled directly into the path of an oncoming vehicle that had the right-of-way and was travelling at approximately 55 mph. The accident was witnessed by Virginia State Trooper Shrewsbury who would have testified that the accident occurred at approximately 1:15 pm and that Stair would have had a clear view of oncoming traffic. Stair had critical injuries and was airlifted to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital.

As part of her treatment her blood was taken and the hospital blood draw showed a blood alcohol level of 0.156. A toxicologist from the Department of Forensic Science would have testified to that being the equivalent of approximately 0.13 from an implied consent blood draw. A driver in Virginia is presumed intoxicated with an implied consent blood draw of 0.08 and higher. Stairs limit was approximately 1 ½ times that limit.

Stair was 7 ½ months pregnant at the time of the accident. When the heartbeat of her fetus stopped the child was delivered via emergency cesarean section. Caiden Matthew Stair was delivered and his heartbeat was restored. He remained dependent on a ventilator to breath and made only gasping efforts to breath when the ventilator was removed. Caiden had a traumatic brain injury. Blood drawn from him at birth showed a hospital blood alcohol level of 0.11.

Caiden’s status was monitored for two days during which his condition deteriorated. On December 20, 2011, Caiden was removed from life support and died. The Medical Examiner’s Office determined the cause of death to be complications of placental abruption and blunt force injuries of the head suffered during the traffic collision.

Inside of Stair’s car police found approximately 200 jello shots containing a mixture of alcohol and Pedialyte. Stair told police she made them for a Christmas party. She first said she hadn’t consumed any alcohol. She then said she tasted a shot. Eventually she said she drank less than a shot’s worth.

The Commonwealth would have presented evidence that none of Stair’s statements were consistent to the blood alcohol level found in her hospital records or in Caiden’s blood.

In 2007, Stair had a prior conviction of driving under the influence in Montgomery County GeneralDistrict Court.

Stair’s attorney James C. Turk, Jr., told the court that Stair is currently pregnant and requested that her sentencing be delayed until after the birth of the child. She remains out of jail on a secured bond pending preparation of a pre-sentence report by a probation officer. Sentencing is set for September 4th.

“Stair had a prior conviction for driving under the influence and yet she did it again. This time there were tragic results. Instead of Caiden now being a normal 15 month old just learning to walk, his life ended at two days of age,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettitt.