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Drunk Norfolk sailor to face seven years or less for vehicular death of shipmate

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A Navy sailor pleaded guilty to causing the death of his shipmate in a car crash where he was driving under the influence in 2022.

Joseph Nicholas Medina, 24, was set to stand trial by jury on June 10, but on Friday, he pleaded guilty to aggravated involuntary manslaughter. His plea agreement calls for him to be sentenced by the judge with an active sentence no longer than seven years.

Medina is scheduled for sentencing on August 23.

According to court records, Medina and his shipmate, Zachary Michael Soussa, were drinking in downtown Norfolk on Dec. 9, 2022. Just after 2 a.m., Medina left downtown and was driving with Soussa as his passenger.

Medina was allegedly speeding eastbound on Virginia Beach Boulevard toward the intersection with Park Avenue when he lost control of his vehicle, drove up onto a median, collided with a tree, spun in the air and hit a second tree.

The collision with the second tree ripped the front passenger door off the vehicle and caused Soussa to eject from the vehicle. Soussa died on impact, according to court records.

Medina was transported to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and treated for his injuries from the crash, and Norfolk Police detained him after he was discharged.

Investigators served a search warrant on the hospital to obtain Medina’s medical records, and those records showed his blood alcohol content following the crash to have been 0.25.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.