Before Nyquie Renee Hall, 18, of Fair Oaks was sentenced in court Friday for violently abducting and wounding a Reston woman, Hall's mother, grandmother, good friend, mentor and pastor all spoke on her behalf.
They told of her past good deeds and of the morals and values they taught her. But these things apparently didn't sink in and take hold, said Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Ian Rodway.
"She had a decent upbringing, but these ladies weren't with her when she [committed these crimes]," he said. "They were things only accomplished criminals do. Good people like [the victim] deserve to be protected; [Hall] deserves to be severely punished."
Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Dennis Smith agreed. For her crimes of carjacking, abduction, robbery and malicious wounding, he sentenced Hall to 20 years in prison. (In an earlier case, her accomplice — a 17-year-old Reston girl — received 35 years in prison. Her name is being withheld since she's a minor).
Hall, of 12771 Alder Woods Drive, was friends with the juvenile. So on Feb. 21, Hall had her boyfriend drop her off at Michael's craft store in Reston, where her friend worked. The victim, 28, was the closing manager, and both teens asked her for a ride home. She agreed but, en route, they asked her to take them, instead, to the Dulles Hyatt Hotel, in Herndon, for a party.
When they reached the parking lot, the victim exited the car to let Hall out of the back seat. But once Hall got out, she struck the woman in the head with a crescent wrench. The victim tried to fight, but was bleeding profusely.
The juvenile then taped the woman's hands with blue, framing tape, and the teens tried stuffing her into the car's trunk, but she wouldn't fit, so they put her in the back seat. The juvenile then placed an X-acto knife against the throat of the terrified victim and demanded the store keys and combination to the safe.
The woman complied, and then they robbed her, as well. Fearing for her life, she begged her captors not to kill her and, to Hall's credit, she convinced the juvenile to spare the victim. The girls then drove awhile, finally stopping on Logmill Road in Haymarket — where they pushed the victim out of the car, toward the woods.
After they left, the woman eventually flagged down a passing car, called the police and said her abductors planned to burglarize Michael's on Plaza America Drive in Reston. Police were there waiting, that night, when the teens arrived in the woman's car. The victim was treated at a hospital for a head laceration, and both teens were arrested.
Hall had the victim's license in her back pocket when she was arrested. And as police read the charges against both girls, the juvenile said Hall was the one who'd hit the woman on the head. Police charged each teen with carjacking, abduction, robbery and malicious wounding. Both later pleaded guilty on all counts.
At the start of Hall's sentencing on Friday, her good friend Kim Holland testified how Hall had helped her with childcare. She also said she'd never known Hall to be violent. The Rev. Jackie Russell of Peace Christian Center Church in Merrifield said she both baptized and "disciplined" Hall: "I taught her the word of God."
Hall's grandmother, Earlie Liggins, also took the stand on her behalf. "I talked with her about how to know right from wrong and how to handle life," she said. "I told her about the things I thought were ladylike. She was obedient but, because of the [generation gap] between us, her way of thinking was different from my way of thinking."
But prosecutor Rodway said Hall's crimes were anything but ladylike, and he told Judge Smith how amazed he was when he first learned that such horrendous things had been done by females. "[The victim] offered to give them a ride home — and what happened to her shouldn't have happened to a dog," said Rodway. "Hall may not have held the knife, but she was directly involved."
He also said the incident was no spur-of-the-moment affair: "This was thought out. The victim was set up, and it turned into a living hell [for her]. Hall will be incarcerated a long time, but the victim will suffer more than Hall will."
Public defender Mike Sprano said his client understood that her punishment would be "substantial," and he acknowledged that she'd committed a terrible crime. "The victim-impact statement speaks volumes," he said. "[Hall] was a direct participant, and society does have to be protected."
He then asked Smith to sentence her to the midpoint of the state sentencing guidelines, 7 to 10 1/2 years. And Sprano implored him to "look at all the evidence of [Hall's] character — both good and bad," plus all the good people who testified for her. Furthermore, he said, "When the co-defendant let [the victim] go, she told her, 'The only reason I'm not gonna kill you is because Nyquie told me not to.'"
He said Hall was remorseful for her actions, empathizes with the victim and realizes the emotional scars the woman will always bear because of what she and her accomplice did. He told Smith there's "nothing you or [Hall] can do to take away [the victim's] suffering or make her whole again. This is certainly the worst thing that Miss Hall has ever done, but this isn't part of a pattern of violent behavior."
Crying, Hall then stood and addressed the court. "I recognize what I did," she said. "I've taken away a lot of [the victim's] life — made her untrusting of people. She didn't do anything to deserve what me and my co-defendant did to her. I'm truly sorry. I've ruined a person's life — she can never feel safe again." Then she told the judge, "I'm ready to take whatever happens. There's nothing I can do to take back what I've done."
Before sentencing her, Smith also had his say. "[The victim] tried to help you, and she ended up being terrorized," he said. "You started it by hitting her on the head with a crescent wrench. You're lucky you didn't kill her. And then you led her on a night of terror." Acknowledging the descriptions Hall's family and friends had given of her, Judge Smith said he didn't know "which Hall will emerge from prison" — the good or bad one. But, he said, "I have to take into account two things — punishment and the protection of society."
He then sentenced her to 12 years in prison for abduction, suspending six years. For carjacking, she received 15 years, with 10 suspended. For robbery, she received seven years with five suspended and, for malicious wounding, she received 10 years with three suspended. That left Hall with six, five, two and seven years, respectively, to serve — and Smith ran all the sentences consecutively, for a total of 20 years.
He also placed her on four years probation. The suspended portions of her sentences were suspended for 50 years so that any part of them may be reinstated if Hall gets into further trouble upon her release. Afterward, Sprano said, "It's a long time to serve — it's a tough decision."