samantha dennis

A Coeburn woman faces more than 25 years in prison for causing a 2016 crash that killed another woman and injured her children.

Samantha Rae Dennis, 38, was sentenced today in Wise County Circuit Court, according to Commonwealth Attorney Chuck Slemp. Dennis was convicted in August 2018 of felony murder and two charges of assault and battery with a motor vehicle.

Dennis was sentenced to 42 years in prison, with 16 years and three months suspended. She will served 25 years and nine months.

After her release, Dennis will be placed on indefinite probation.

On Dec. 23, 2016, Dennis was traveling eastbound on U.S. 58A near Coeburn when she encountered a DUI sobriety checkpoint. Dennis made a U-turn and began traveling westbound at high speed on the eastbound lane into oncoming traffic.

Dennis crashed head-on into a vehicle driven by Rebecca Williams Starling, 32. Starling was killed and her children, five and two at the time, were injured.

Dennis told police she had taken prescription medication, specifically Xanax, Klonipin and Subutex, the day before the wreck.

“Two children horrifically lost their mother and were permanently injured just before Christmas Eve in 2016,” Slemp said in the release. “A beautiful, promising, young life was tragically cut short because of one person’s senseless act of selfishness.”

Slemp thanked agencies including the Wise County Sheriff’s Department, Virginia State Police and Coeburn Police Department for responding to the accident in 2016. He also credited Senior Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Josh Newberry and Chief Deputy Commonwealth Attorney Steven Davis for their work on the case.

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