Wise County woman pleads guilty to manslaughter in DUI crash

Laya Maude Belcher
Laya Maude Belcher

WISE, Va. — A southwestern Virginia woman faces up to 21 years in prison, after pleading guilty Monday morning to DUI and aggravated involuntary manslaughter in Wise Circuit Court.

Laya Maude Belcher, 60, of Wise, admitted to being intoxicated when she drove the wrong way in the southbound lanes of U.S. 23 in Wise County back in September, resulting in a head-on crash. Sharon Dorton, 62, of Big Stone Gap, died as a result of that crash.

Belcher reportedly told police at the scene of the crash that she was “a little drunk, not a lot drunk,” at the time of the crash, saying she’d had four or five shots in the hour before. A blood test revealed her blood-alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit.

Belcher entered her plea without the benefit of an agreement with prosecutors, meaning a judge will determine her sentence at a later date.