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The Marquis de Lafayette spends two days a week in an orange jumpsuit at the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail.
The rest of the week, he is in Colonial Williamsburg, assisting visitors and educating students on the history of the United States and France’s role in the Revolutionary War.
Colonial Williamsburg’s Marquis de Lafayette is portrayed by 47-year-old historical interpreter Mark Schneider, who was convicted of felony DUI maiming in 2009 after hitting and seriously injuring a woman with his car on Christmas Eve.
Schneider, who has been a historical interpreter for Colonial Williamsburg since 1997, was sentenced in December 2011 to the maximum penalty — 12 months on the DUI charge and five years on the maiming charge — by retired Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court Judge Samuel Powell, who ordered him to serve his time in two-day increments.
On Tuesday, Schneider asked for and was denied an amendment to his sentence.
So far, Schneider has served 527 days and has 1,243 days left to serve. If he continues to serve them in two-day increments, he will complete his sentence in 2027.
On the night of the accident, Schneider’s blood alcohol content was two times the legal limit, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Maureen Kufro said.
Schneider testified Tuesday he had fallen asleep while drunk on Christmas Eve and had woken up the same evening thinking it was Christmas Day.
He said he got into his car, a 2006 silver Suzuki, and was driving to the office at around 9 p.m. to get the Christmas present he had purchased for his then-2-year-old son when he hit a then-72-year-old woman while she was crossing the street at a crosswalk at the intersection of Francis and South England streets.
The woman, a Pennsylvania native who was visiting friends in Williamsburg at the time, had to be taken by helicopter to a Richmond hospital, where she underwent surgery.
She testified Tuesday that in addition to the physical pain she feels 24 hours a day, she suffers from depression and her cognitive function is declining. A dog breeder by trade, she was described as being “vibrant” before the accident by her friend and caretaker.
“I’m a prisoner in my own home,” she said, explaining she has difficulty walking, can no longer travel and relies on her friend for day-to-day functions including getting to weekly doctors’ appointments.
At Schneider’s sentencing in 2011, Powell ordered Schneider to serve his time in two-day increments “for as long as [the victim] is suffering.” He was also ordered to pay the victim’s $12,388 medical bills.
At the time, there were no guidelines for sentencing, which allowed Powell to impose the unusual sentence. Current Circuit Court Judge Michael McGinty chose to follow Powell’s order Tuesday after hearing testimony from Schneider, the victim and the victim’s caretaker and reading from the 2011 hearing transcript.
Schneider has no criminal history or convictions, completed alcohol counseling and treatment and has not consumed alcohol since the accident. He regularly speaks as an advocate against drunken driving, sharing his story to his coworkers and to local students.
He holds a degree from Christopher Newport University and served four years in the U.S. Army.
In addition to portraying Lafayette at Colonial Williamsburg, Schneider has portrayed Napoleon Bonaparte, Banastre Tarleton and other characters from America’s history. In September, he was granted furlough to attend the second annual Imperial Jubilee outside of Paris, France as Napoleon Bonaparte.
For now, he will continue to spend every Monday and Tuesday night in jail. His case is up for review in January 2016.