On December 5, 2023, in the Alleghany County Circuit Court, Jody Allen Kern, 45, of Callaghan, was sentenced to serve 33 years in prison for charges stemming from a pursuit that ended when Kern fired shots at two Alleghany County Sheriff’s Deputies.
Kern was sentenced to a total of 80 years in prison suspended after serving a 33-year active sentence for two counts of attempted aggravated murder of a law enforcement officer, two counts of using a firearm in the commission of attempted aggravated murder, shooting into a law enforcement vehicle, eluding, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine 10 grams or more, possession of a firearm while possessing methamphetamine with intent to distribute and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
On June 14, 2023, Kern pled guilty to the nine felony charges which carried a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 17 years with an agreed maximum active sentence of 33 years. Alleghany County/City of Covington Commonwealth’s Attorney, Ann Gardner, summarized the evidence for the Court.
On June 9, 2022, Alleghany County Sheriff’s Deputy William “Tre” Clark stopped Kern’s Toyota Camry for driving 93 miles per hour traveling eastbound on Interstate 64. During the traffic stop, Deputy James R. Wright’s narcotics dog alerted to the presence of drugs in Kern’s vehicle. When asked to step out of the vehicle, Kern, instead, fled the scene reaching speeds of 120 miles per hour on the interstate before taking exit 21 at Low Moor. From there, Kern continued to flee recklessly ignoring the deputies’ lights and sirens. The pursuit continued up Rich
Patch Road where dash camera video showed Kern toss a baggie of what appeared to be drugs out his window.
After several miles, deputies were able to stop Kern using a rolling roadblock with Deputy Wright’s vehicle in front of Kerns’ and Deputy Clark’s behind. When Kern’s vehicle finally came to a stop, it was trapped between the two marked police vehicles. Kern immediately began shooting a spray of gunfire through his own windshield directly at Deputy Wright’s vehicle. One of the seven shots Kern fired in this first volley pierced the window of Deputy Wright’s open driver’s side door as he was preparing to step out.
Deputy Clark, whose marked police vehicle was parked directly behind Kern, approached Kern’s vehicle from the driver’s side rear. Deputy Clark ordered Kern to show his hands at which time Kern turned and shot toward Deputy Clark. Deputies returned fire and eventually removed Kern from his vehicle after which they placed him under arrest. Both deputies were uninjured while Kern sustained only minor injuries. From Kern’s person, deputies recovered separate quantities of illegal drugs.
In a subsequent search of Kern’s vehicle and crime scene, investigators from the Virginia State Police, led by Special Agent Jonathan Bostic, recovered a Ruger .45 caliber pistol and a Glock .45 caliber pistol. Large quantities of illegal drugs were also recovered including approximately 96 grams of methamphetamine plus Fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and a host of illegally obtained prescription drugs. Investigators also found sums of cash and other evidence of drug distribution. A lab analysis conducted on blood samples collected from Kern showed the presence of methamphetamine at nearly four times the statutory presumptive level for driving under the influence.
In his statement to Special Agent Mark Austin, Kern admitted to shooting at the deputies explaining, “But if you disrespect me, that’s why I get so mad for being pulled over.”
In addition to the verbal summary, Gardner played video clips from Deputy Robert Dudley’s dash camera which recorded Kern’s first round of shots into Deputy Wright’s vehicle. Gardner also displayed Deputy Clark’s body camera video capturing the glass blowing out of Kern’s window as he shot directly at the camera Deputy Clark was wearing on his chest.
Gardner told the Court, “We sit in this courtroom watching it all unfold on video; however, there is no way any of us can imagine what it was like for these officers to live through it or to live with it.”
From the witness stand at his sentencing in December, Kern offered an apology to the two deputies who were present in the courtroom. Kern testified that if he had been in a “different state of mind” he would not have acted the way he did. Kern’s attorney, Stephen R. Wills, asked the Court for a more lenient sentence citing Kern’s age together with his health problems while arguing that Kern had accepted responsibility for his actions.
Gardner countered that Kern was not at all remorseful for his actions she pointed out that, days after the incident, Kern bragged to his friends that not everyone has the courage to “shoot it out with the police” but he knew he did. Kern said that if he had been in his “race car that night” he “would have put some moves on them up the Patch” and the deputies could “eat” his “vapors.” Kern even went so far as to mock his victims in messages to friends.
Alleghany County Circuit Court Judge, Edward K. Stein, found that Kern had not accepted responsibility. After Kern serves his 33-year active sentence he will remain on probation for an indefinite period of time. Victims Deputy Wright and Deputy Clark were consulted and participated in all phases of Kern’s trial.
“This case is a perfect example of how a routine traffic stop can turn deadly for our law enforcement officers,” Gardner said. “By the grace of God nobody was killed in this shooting; however, it should make us all appreciate the risks these officers take on a daily basis while they are out there enforcing the laws that keep the rest of us safe.
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