A Hillsville man ordered to complete 1,000 hours of community service and not drive a vehicle for five years after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter and driving under the influence in May of 2016 returned to Floyd County Circuit Court on Tuesday, July 11 where two Carroll County residents testified seeing him drive on at least three occasions since his convictions.
In addition, a probation report shows Jason Perry Bolen, 26, has only completed 75 hours of his community service.
Bolen, who faces five years in prison if Judge Marc Long revokes his probation, lost control of his pickup on Rock Church Road in Floyd County on June 21, 2015. His truck, driven at a high rate of speed, flew through the air, clipped the tops of trees and slammed sideways into a large tree, folding it nearly in half and killed his best friend and injured himself and two others.
A plea agreement, urged by the family of the victim, kept Bolen out of prison and gave him a chance to repent, Eric Branscom said at the time of sentencing in 2016. A state police report of the accident also noted that the Ford F-250 pickup had bald tires and no one was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.
Branscom filed a “show cause” order to review Bolen’s probation after reports that Bolen had been seen driving in Carroll County while his driving privileges were suspended.
One witness said she saw Bolen driving “at least” twice, once in a green pickup and another time behind the wheel of a flatbed truck, since the hearing in 2016. Another testified that he saw Bolen drive up at a service station south of Hillsville in June.
Bolen, however, denied driving at any time when questioned, his probation officer reported.
Judge Long said he didn’t believe Bolen’s denials.
“I know you were driving. You know you were driving,” Long said. “And only 75 hours of community service in the past year? We have people who do that many hours in a month! You are not taking the chance you were given seriously.”
Long ordered Bolen to start getting more hours of his community service done “now, not later” and set a review of his progress in December.
“I did not like the plea arrangement when it was set,” Long said, but added that he accepted it because of the family of the victim supported it.
“If I don’t see some changes, I’ll send you to prison for five years and see if that gets your attention,” he said.
Bolen’s defense attorney, Gregory Goad, argued that Bolen’s construction work kept him from doing as much community service.
“If he’s in jail, he won’t be working at his job or doing any community service,” Long fired back. “He needs to think about that.”
Bolen’s hearing came after a crowded docket with drug court and a meeting of a new Floyd County Grand Jury under a revised court schedule that began on July 1.