Jury Sentences Cena for Road Rage Death in Fairfax City

Family of dead man says legal system failed him and family.

Librado Cena, 57, was convicted of misdemeanor assault and battery in the road-rage fight with William O'Brien in April 2013.
Librado Cena, 57, was convicted of misdemeanor assault and battery in the road-rage fight with William O'Brien in April 2013.

A Fairfax County jury on Wednesday sentenced Librado Cena to three months in jail for a road rage incident at the Fair City Mall that led to another driver’s death.

Cena, 58, of Fairfax City, had been found guilty Tuesday of misdemeanor assault for a scuffle that led to the death of 63-year-old William O’Brien last April.

he maximum sentence is 12 months in jail.

Cena testified that he had hit O'Brien only once in the Best Buy parking lot in Fairfax. But O’Brien died 10 days later, reportedly from a head injury during the fight that was made worse by a blood-thinner he had been prescribed.

Charges of aggravated malicious wounding were dropped last fall, but a grand jury indicted Cena on a misdemeanor assault and battery charge in November.

Before the sentence was announced, O’Brien’s family members gave tearful testimony about the impact his death had on the family, according to The Washington Post. 

Robin Remsburg, O’Brien’s widow, described the suffering O’Brien endured in the 10 days he clung to life after the assault, the Post reported, and she said that the “legal system has failed my husband and family,” since Cena was only facing a misdemeanor charge. She said he should have been “on trial for homicide.”

A final sentencing hearing in the case will occur on May 9. At that time, a judge can decrease the jury’s recommended sentence, but not increase it.

Erin Hems February 26, 2014 at 04:35 PM
Rich Williams February 26, 2014 at 04:53 PM
The victim's wife is absolutely right, that the legal system has failed her family. What a shocking outcome for this case, and an embarrassment for Fairfax. Criminals like Librado Cena make this world a worse place for everyone -- and the message sent today is that it's basically OK to track someone down and fight them. Just a slap on the wrist for what should have been a major felony. This appears to be either prosecutorial ineptitude, or a systemic failure in our legal system, or both. My prayers are with Ms. Remsberg and her family.
Mike Rothenberg February 26, 2014 at 07:24 PM
I second all the other comments...unbelievable!
joe brewer February 27, 2014 at 07:06 AM
We have become the banana republic. Life is cheap just ask Mrs. Mars candy queen. She has a tally of 2 in the unprotected driver killers club. Skin him alive!
Elizabeth February 27, 2014 at 07:15 AM
All I can do is ditto all the other comments here. My heart breaks for the victim's family.
Tom G. February 27, 2014 at 07:24 AM
Is anybody even familiar with the details of this case before the pass judgment? The "victim", Mr. O'Brien, allegedly followed Mr. Cena and honked at him at every traffic stop, which we can all agree he shouldn't have done and which understandably angered Mr. Cena. Mr. Cena followed Mr. O'Brien into the Best Buy parking lot, which we can all agree he shouldn't have done, and, according to Mr. Cena's statement, said “You don’t have to honk at me like that. One of these days you’re gonna get your ass kicked.” Cena said that O'Brien told him “Well let’s go right now”, and a brief scuffle ensued. From the security video it's difficult to see exactly what happened, but it seems clear that Mr. Cena is backing away and Mr. O'Brien is pursuing him. A witness told police that he saw the latter part of the fight, saying, “The old man [O'Brien] was more, you know, fighting.” Both men were, by all accounts, really nice guys and this would probably have been just an embarrassing, insignificant episode for them if not for the fact that O'Brien's anti-stroke medication apparently caused minor brain trauma, like from falling, to bleed uncontrollably leading to his death. Not sure why the Reston Patch leaves out so much of the story, but you can read a fuller account of the story here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/anger-on-the-roads-led-to-a-single-deadly-punch-in-fairfax-city/2014/02/23/23e04034-98d2-11e3-b88d-f36c07223d88_story.html
hasty krippendorff February 27, 2014 at 07:49 AM
My family has experienced bad public relations from the org that Cena worked for. Longtime choir director fired, over the phone, on her birthday, because she spoke for women's rights in the church. A rectory staff member's spreading of slander regarding my family member. A cleric there with anger management issues, detrimental to myself & a family member. It comes as no surprise that Cena has anger management issues, that tragically & unnecessarily turned deadly.
Ruzasfirst February 27, 2014 at 08:32 AM
Another case of our legal system not playing fair. We have both juveniles and adults incarcerated for felony assault that did not result in a death and are serving longer than 90 days. Only Cena and O'Brien know the whole story but only Cena lives to testify.
Tom G. February 27, 2014 at 09:36 AM
Ruzasfirst, if Cena was taking the anti-stroke medication it may well have been him that died, since he was punched at least once, and O'Brien that lived to tell the tale and accused of assault, so the deadly outcome had much more to do with the anti-stroke medication O'Brien was taking than the clumsy altercation itself. And who provoked who, and who assaulted who? Who goaded who into the altercation and who escalated the it beyond words and into a physical confrontation? I don't know for sure and neither does anyone else commenting here, but it is fairly clear that both men bear significant responsibility. And, hasty, the irony of your comment is staggering, where you complain about an incident of "slander" and then proceed to slander Cena because of his association with an organization you have a grudge against.
hasty krippendorff February 27, 2014 at 10:21 AM
No irony. Only diplomacy & euphemism. I could go into specific factual specific detail about the specific injustice that was rendered to my family by the church staff. With no apology or accountability by or of those involved. My point is that Cena is a product of that system, that has past & present bad karma (law of cause of effect).
rbud February 27, 2014 at 10:35 AM
This seems completely unfair to me, despite Tom G's well stated post. O'Brien may have been the initial antagonist, but Cena was clearly the aggressor when he confronted O'Brien face to face in the parking lot. At that point, Cena became both the aggressor and antagonist. Many other people have been found guilty of murder under less challenging circumstances. In any event, whether or not a murder charge is justified here, this charge and sentence is well beneath the import of the event. Intentional or not, Cena killed another person, but doesn't want to be held accountable for his behavior. Justice has not been done in my view.
Rick Young February 27, 2014 at 10:51 AM
We need to remove these ultra liberal judges that refuse to put the hammer down on societies THUGS. They enable and encourage evil in society by always trying to save the thug from harsh penalties. Judges need to be held accountable just like the criminal.
Tom G. February 27, 2014 at 02:41 PM
Rick, the judge had nothing to do with the charges brought against Cena, the jury's verdict or the jury's sentence. And what is it about Cena that makes him a "thug"? The fact that he's a Sunday school teacher, the religious director of his church, or a family man with no previous legal issues (at least none that I've seen reported)? By all accounts that I've read, both O'Brien and Cena were good, popular, and well-respected men. And let's get something else straight while we're at it: if O'Brien was honking at Cena at every light when Cena was doing nothing wrong then O'Brien wasn't just being a jerk, he was breaking the law (see §46.2-1060): "...It shall further be unlawful for any person at any time to use a horn otherwise than as a reasonable warning or to make any unnecessary or unreasonably loud or harsh sound by means of a horn or other warning device."
Fairfax Family February 27, 2014 at 02:50 PM
It saddens me as I have read these comments over the last 10 months. It appears that so many people just jump to a conclusion without having all the facts. I am not sure what happened to innocent until proven guilty but clearly many of you found Mr. Cena guilty based on a few news articles. If I have learned nothing else from this horrible incident I have learned that you can not believe everything you read in the papers. It is obvious that many are taking out their dislike of the Catholic Church on Mr. Cena as well. To hasy Krippendorff - I am well aware of who your family member is and many of us were not happy with her treatment. Just so you know - your family member has been in the Courtroom all 3 days in support of Mr. Cena. I doubt she would be too happy to hear that you are slandering and judging him here citing reference to what happened to her. She clearly cares about Mr. Cena and if you asked her maybe she could enlighten you on his character. Tom G. thanks for trying to talk some reason but it appears that many in this audience are not interested in finding out all the facts but are intent on slandering Mr. Cena. This was a tragedy for all involved. The bottom line here is - if someone is showing road rage and dangerous behavior on the roads including honking, tailgating, cutting you off, yelling and making inappropriate gestures do not try to tell them their behavior is inappropriate just keep driving. I am really surprised that a man on Pradaxa would begin kicking and throwing punches. I guess he was so worked up from his trip down Pickett that he wasn't thinking clearly either. I continue to pray for both families.
hasty krippendorff February 27, 2014 at 03:19 PM
"Fairfax Family" - This is a miracle!: "Just so you know - your family member has been in the Courtroom all 3 days in support of Mr. Cena. I doubt she would be too happy to hear that you are slandering and judging him here citing reference to what happened to her. She clearly cares about Mr. Cena and if you asked her maybe she could enlighten you on his character." My family member has been *deceased* for 2 months.
Fairfax Family February 27, 2014 at 03:45 PM
Well the music director from St. Leo's that was discharged after speaking out about women's rights was sitting in the courtroom because I talked to her. I have been a member of that Parish since 2001 so I guess your family member was prior to that time period then. I apologize if I assumed you were speaking about the one that I know. May your family member rest in peace.
Gary Howe February 27, 2014 at 05:42 PM
Totally agree - outrageously disgusting. Our legal system has totally been destroyed from within. You can get more time caught with a marijuana cigarette! Outrageous. S I C K E N I N G!
Kelly O'Brien February 28, 2014 at 08:52 AM
Some of you assume Cena's account of the events is gospel. There is no evidence proving my father "beeped incessantly". No one will ever know the truth of what happened that day.
hasty krippendorff February 28, 2014 at 10:58 AM
Also, for those who sat in support of Cena in the court room in defense of his character, should know that basic psychology can involve acting good & ethical & exemplary with family, friends, & congregation, but can deviate from that when they aren't around, & when he thinks nobody is looking. Would he have turned himself in after his assault to the victim, if the cctv cameras didn't record his unnecessary & fatal aggression?
Theresa Phan March 27, 2014 at 12:58 PM
I am with Cena. Sounds like O'brien decided to start something and ended up with more than he bargained for.


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