The crash left 20-year-old Katherine Reyes dead after she had been sitting in her car with a flat tire.
FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — A former elected leader in D.C. was sentenced Friday to four years in prison one year after a deadly DUI wreck in Fairfax County.
Former Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Devon Lesesne pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter on Nov. 30, 2022, for driving under the influence when he struck and killed 20-year-old Katherine Reyes on March 6, 2022.
At the time of the crash, Lesesne had recently been elected chairperson for Advisory Neighborhood Commission 8D.
According to investigators, Reyes was stranded on the side of I-495 near Telegraph Road due to a flat tire when she was hit. Virginia State Police (VSP) said in 2022 that Reyes was sitting inside her vehicle and had flares behind the vehicle and hazards were flashing when the car was struck.
The impact caused her car to burst into flames.
At the time of his arrest, Virginia State Police said Lesesne was driving while intoxicated. Officials said he was driving up to 99 mph with a blood alcohol content of .196.
Family and friends of Reyes and Lesesne packed the courtroom on Friday for his sentencing. Her mother Esmeralda Reyes traveled from Alabama to testify how her loss anguished everyone’s lives.
They strongly believe the sentence was not enough.
“I feel guilty all the time because I wasn’t able to be there and help my daughter,” Esmeralda Reyes said. “I didn’t even get to say goodbye to my baby. I miss her every day. I didn’t get to see her. All I got was a phone call that she was gone.”
“I saw her phone location and it was stuck on the Beltway,” her cousin Genesis Molina added. “I accidentally saw the entire site. I just started crying because I couldn’t believe something like that happened. She was alone.”
In an unexpected move, Judge John Tran asked Lesesne to take the stand and answer his questions. He broke down on the stand when he began to address the Reyes family.
“I’m extremely sorry,” he said. “I messed up. I think about it every day about how I could’ve done it differently. I got a lifetime of work to do.”
When asked by the judge, Lesesne said he does not have a drinking problem. He claimed to only have a 24oz Bahama Mama when he decided to get pizza and get on the road.
The prosecution questioned his statement.
Lesesne’s defense and wife, who also testified, described what happened as a terrible mistake. His attorney argued that although he should be punished, the sentence needed to be appropriate. She said he has been remorseful and is seeking therapy.
“The punishment should not overshadow everything that he is and has done,” the defense said.
Lesesne’s wife and colleague described his unwavering dedication to the community and wanting to help others.
“I’m very sorry,” his wife Tanika Lesesne told the victim’s family. “I hope you all as a collective, eventually get that peace in your soul.”
“He’s not that guy,” she added. “He’s a good person. He made a mistake and he’s aware of that.”
However, Reyes’ family feels because of how fast he was going and the lies told to police during his arrest, the sentence needed to be higher.
When he was indicted, Lesesne was technically the chair for 8D in Southeast. His role has since been filled by another elected official.
Police arrested Devon Lesesne, an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in the District for allegedly driving under the influence when he hit Reyes.