FINCASTLE, Va. -- A truck driver who said he got only four hours sleep while driving across the country twice in eight days was sentenced to 40 years in prison Thursday for shooting into a car that tried to pass him and wounding the son of country-music singer Ricky Skaggs.
Edward Duehring Jr., 37, of Germantown, Md., said he was trying to make a nearly-impossible schedule imposed by his employer and was drifting in and out of consciousness and using drugs to help him stay awake last Aug. 17.
'I'm not saying any of this is justification,' he said. 'There's no justification for anyone to harm a child.'
He could have been sentenced to 52 years on charges of shooting into the vehicle driven by Skaggs' first wife, Brenda, maliciously wounding Skaggs' 7-year-old son, Andrew, using a firearm in a felony, possession of marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines, and hit-and-run resulting in personal injury.
The incident occurred when Mrs. Skaggs, returning home to Lexington, Ky., from a visit with relatives, tried to pass Duehring's truck on Interstate 81 just north of Roanoke. The truck driver fired into the Skaggs car and the bullet struck the boy in the face and neck, grazing the carotid artery, tearing out several teeth and damaging the lips, gum and palate.
Duehring said neither occupant of the Skaggs car did anything to provoke his attack and he was suffering from acute sleep deprivation after driving from Maryland to California and Washington, D.C., in just over eight days.
He testified he heard the voices of people he thought were following him and he fired the shot as a warning to those imagined people.
He said he hoped eventually to help with medical bills for the boy, who has undergone three operations and faces at least two more. The mother said her son has been treated by nine doctors, including a neurologist and a psychiatrist, and has suffered emotional problems that include fears of being alone and fears of riding in a car at night.
'I don't see how any victim can be any more innocent than this 7-year-old boy,' Botetourt County Circuit Judge George E. Honts III said.