- The Washington Times - Monday, March 1, 2004

A Lorton man charged with killing a man with his car and then dragging him more than eight miles early Sunday will be in court this morning in Fairfax County for a bail hearing.

Josuel P. Galdino, 25, of the 9100 block of Stone Garden Drive, was arrested Sunday morning and charged with manslaughter, driving while intoxicated and felony hit-and-run.

Mr. Galdino was scheduled to have a bail hearing yesterday morning. However, his attorney, Daniel Lopez, requested a delay to consult further with prosecutors. Mr. Galdino remained in the county jail last night.

Mr. Lopez said Mr. Galdino should be set free on bail because he has no criminal record and poses no danger to the community.

“The police informed me that when they began to talk to him that he was very upset, crying and very remorseful, seeing the victim there deceased,” Mr. Lopez said.

Mr. Galdino is in the United States on a temporary visa and was a domestic worker for an employee of the Brazilian Embassy, said Telma Costa, an embassy spokeswoman. Fairfax County police said he is not entitled to diplomatic immunity.

Police said Mr. Galdino was driving a Mitsubishi Montero south on Interstate 95 near the Fairfax County Parkway when he hit Fitsum Gebreegziabher, 27, of Woodbridge. Mr. Gebreegziabher had stopped and gotten out of his Toyota Camry after getting a flat tire in the left lane.

During the collision, Mr. Gebreegziabher became pinned in the front-end suspension of Mr. Galdino’s car and was dragged 8- miles to the suspect’s home.

Fairfax County police said the body became dislodged when Mr. Galdino put the car in reverse while trying to park. After he discovered the body, he called police at about 6 a.m. — two hours after police towed Mr. Gebreegziabher’s car — and told them that he might have hit someone.

Mr. Lopez said a passenger in Mr. Galdino’s car told police neither of them was aware that they had hit a person.

Mr. Gebreegziabher’s family said that’s hard to believe.

“I can’t understand what kind of human being is driving a body nine miles,” said Endalkachew Zewdie, a friend of Mr. Gebreegziabher’s family. He said Mr. Gebreegziabher lived in Toronto and had just completed school there. He had been in the Washington area for about a month for a scheduled family reunion.

Mr. Zewdie said Mr. Gebreegziabher’s four sisters and brother were “devastated” and that his parents, who were flying in from the African nation of Eritrea for the reunion, did not know of their youngest child’s death.

Mr. Zewdie said Mr. Gebreegziabher, whose name translates to “complete work of God,” was driving his sister-in-law’s car when the accident occurred, but he was not sure where Mr. Gebreegziabher had been.

Mr. Zewdie said that police notified Mr. Gebreegziabher’s brother and sisters that he had been killed in a hit-and-run, but that the family didn’t learn the gruesome details of the death until reporters told them later that day.

“We were the last persons to know what happened,” Mr. Zewdie said. “The more we know, the worse it gets.”

On Stone Garden Drive in Lorton, a trail of fluorescent red-paint dots about 2 inches in diameter and evenly spaced about every 25 feet, marked the bloodstains left by Mr. Gebreegziabher’s body as it was dragged into the housing development. A pool of blood was still visible in the street.

No one answered the door at Mr. Galdino’s home.

Neighbor Isabel Crawford, 43, said she used to see Mr. Galdino regularly in the neighborhood. She said several months ago Mr. Galdino told her he was from Brazil.

“He seemed like a very nice guy, very friendly,” she said. “He didn’t cause any problems in the neighborhood. He wasn’t rowdy or anything.”

She said she didn’t know about the details of the case until she saw news reports later that day.

“I was horrified and then saddened for both parties,” she said. “It’s sickening and sad.”

Neighbor Veronica Taylor, 43, said she only learned yesterday that the suspect lived 100 feet from her back door.

“I just can’t believe it,” she said. “It’s a horrible thing anyway, but to think somebody in my neighborhood is capable of that is really scary.”

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