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They say the third time is the charm. Blessings come in threes, right? Not so, for Matthew Ray Burch, 35, of New Kent, VA. He was charged with his third DWI in April, after a head-on collision that left 19-year-old Williamsburg resident Christopher Mellis dead just before midnight on April 10.

Burch pleaded not guilty to a felony DWI charge – once again, his third – as well as not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and to a direct indictment of felony homicide handed down by the Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court grand jury Wednesday, May 20. Burch is being held at the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail without bond. He is scheduled to appear in Circuit Court on July 13.

As a personal injury attorney, this case piques my interest. As a citizen and as a human being, it really lights a fire under me. I have not read the police report, so I make no claim to know the details of the case, but I do know that when I read a news story about a man who, after his THIRD drinking and driving violation, finally claims a life, it causes me a deep, deep sadness. To make matters worse, the life he claimed was that of a young man, a child really, who had the world at his feet, ready for the taking.

This case really makes me think hard about the work that I do – the people I work for, the citizens I serve. This story really hits home how important it is to have someone working hard for your rights as a victim. Christopher Mellis did not deserve to die this past spring, and it is because of victims of negligence, recklessness, and ignorance that I continue to do the work I do. The never-ending work of protecting and rectifying citizens’ rights is a long, hard battle, but it’s one worth fighting. And it’s why all we do is personal injury law.

Shapiro, Cooper Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm is based in Virginia (VA), near the Northeast North Carolina (NC) border, practicing primarily in the southeastern U.S. and handles only injury law, including car, truck, railroad, and medical negligence cases and more. The firm’s website is:, the firm edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, as well as the Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard and also hosts a video library covering many FAQ’s on personal injury subjects. Lawyers licensed in: VA, NC, SC, WV, DC, KY.


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