Moments after losing custody of 2 kids, a man ran their mother down in a Norfolk garage. He’ll serve 20 years.

·3 min read

After losing custody of two of his 10 children in a Norfolk courtroom last year, Avion Northan headed to his SUV in a garage across the street.

Once Northan was in his red Jeep Compass in the MacArthur Center garage, surveillance video showed him backing into a space across from a car belonging to Terrica Epps, the mother of the two children.

Northan waited for about a half-hour until Epps made her way into the garage. The video, played in court Friday, then shows Northan accelerate.

Next, a different camera angle shows Epps on the ground under the front bumper of Northan’s SUV. A Norfolk police detective — who happened to be nearby and ran into the garage after hearing the collision — is seen crouched, trying to comfort her.

Northan, 37, approached two police officers and admitted to running Epps down. He said he hoped she was dead. Epps survived, but suffered critical injuries.

On Friday, Norfolk Circuit Judge Michelle Atkins sentenced Northan to 20 years in prison for the attack.

State sentencing guidelines recommended no more than 13 ½ years after he pleaded no contest to charges of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated malicious wounding and assault and battery of a family member. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Anthony Comento, however, argued the circumstances called for a term well above the guidelines.

Northan apologized before the sentence was issued. He told Atkins he never intended to hurt Epps and just wanted to “talk” to her. He also said he “wasn’t thinking” and didn’t remember hitting her with his vehicle.

The judge disputed his claims.

“You waited for her to come out, you positioned your car, and you ran her down,” Atkins said. “That’s a vicious act that was committed all because you were mad you didn’t get custody.”

Epps testified she suffered multiple broken bones in her pelvis and left leg, and significant nerve damage. She underwent two surgeries, spent a month in the hospital, and eight months in a wheelchair. She was three months pregnant with her fifth child at the time she was hit.

Epps said she was unable to do simple things like dress or bathe herself for months afterward. During her long recovery process, an aunt cared for her while her children were divided among relatives in different states, she said. It wasn’t until December — four months after the August 2021 crash — they were all reunited.

“I’ll never forget what he did to me,” Epps testified. “His intentions were to take my life ... He deserves no leniency for what he did to me.”

Eight of Northan’s loved ones testified during the sentencing hearing — all describing him as an exceptional father, friend and family member.

Atkins, however, questioned how he could “truly be supportive” of 10 kids born to six different mothers.

“I have no doubt that you love all 10 of your children,” the judge said. Atkins also said she didn’t question that all of his family members and friends see him as a good person.

“But to other people. They’ve seen a different side of you,” she said.

Jane Harper, jane.harper@pilotonline.com