A driver who struck and killed a pedestrian in downtown Roanoke early last year pleaded no contest Monday to hit-and-run involving death.
Gene Clyde Gallimore received a three-year sentence, but through his plea agreement, that time will be suspended after he serves a year and a half.
His punishment fell just above the midpoint of state sentencing guidelines, which ranged from 12 to 20 months. In Virginia, hit-and-run with a fatality carries a maximum of 10 years in prison.
Gallimore, 60, is being held in the Botetourt County Jail. Because of the statewide COVID-19 judicial emergency in place, his plea hearing Monday was conducted via teleconference with Roanoke Circuit Court officials.
In a summary of evidence against Gallimore, Roanoke assistant prosecutor John Beamer said that on Feb. 13, 2019, Linda Pierson got off work at the Roanoke City Jail shortly before 7 p.m. and was walking up Campbell Avenue. She reportedly was on her way to pick up her grandson at her nearby church.
As Pierson crossed Fifth Street, she was hit by a large pickup truck.
“Witnesses described officers arriving within 30 seconds of [her] being struck,” Beamer said. “When officers first arrived, they found no pulse and began CPR.” He said rescue crews were on the scene within minutes.
Pierson, 58, was taken to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, where she was declared dead by blunt force trauma, he said.
Although some witnesses described the vehicle as a white truck, Beamer said investigators — using broken glass from the scene and video footage of a vehicle heading up Fifth Street — soon developed a profile of a red pickup.
Based on witness statements, Beamer said, it appeared that Gallimore had either a green or a yellow light as his truck went through the intersection.
Six days after the collision, officers located a red Chevrolet Silverado that belonged to Gallimore, and he acknowledged being on Fifth Street the day of the wreck. The truck was searched and one of its headlights had been recently replaced, while another one, broken, was found in the bed of the truck. A forensic exam linked that older fixture to glass found at the scene, Beamer said.
A fiber discovered in the grill of the truck “would’ve been consistent with a blue jacket Mrs. Pierson was wearing the day she was struck by the vehicle,” Beamer said.
Gallimore did not present any evidence at the hearing, and he gave no explanation for the crash or for leaving the scene. He simply told Judge David Carson he felt “a deep regret that happened.”
Beamer told Carson that Pierson’s survivors were aware of the plea agreement, but “they do have some issues with it,” he acknowledged.
“There wasn’t any evidence we could find that would’ve warranted a manslaughter charge,” Beamer said afterward. “We just didn’t have evidence to support that.”
Gallimore has been held since July, so he has already served about 10 months of his sentence.
His case had been scheduled to go to trial last August, and then again in December, but it was continued to allow him to undergo an evaluation of his competency and gauge his sanity at the time of the offense.
In May 2016, he pleaded guilty in Montgomery County General District Court to DWI, driving with a revoked license and possessing a Schedule III drug. He received 90 days in jail, all suspended, and lost his license for one year.
The year before that, in Pulaski County, Gallimore saw a DWI charge dropped but was found guilty on a count of refusing a breath-analysis test, which also led to a one-year license suspension.
Pierson had two daughters and three grandchildren. She had worked at the Roanoke City Jail, in the kitchen, for about a year.