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Grand jury to hear Tennessee vehicular homicide charge

A charge of vehicular homicide is a serious matter, but it's not necessarily an easy one for the prosecution to prove in court. For one Tennessee woman who allegedly caused the death of a man in a 2013 car crash, the case will move to the grand jury phase.

In August 2013, a woman was discovered allegedly shoplifting from a Fayetteville dollar store. According to authorities, she then stole a police cruiser and began driving at a high rate of speed to evade police. The cruiser crashed into the side of an SUV with five people inside. A 55-year-old passenger died as a result of the collision, and the other four occupants were taken from the scene to be treated for injuries.

The chase ended when the police cruiser collided with a gas pump. The woman now facing charges was injured in the crash and transported to a local medical facility for treatment.

On May 5 a Tennessee court held a probable cause hearing on the vehicular homicide case. During the hearing, a former officer with the Tennessee Highway Patrol testified on the stand that after the crash the woman's blood alcohol level was 0.11 percent, higher than the state's 0.08 limit for driving.

Traces of other substances were also reportedly found in the woman’s system, though the prosecution didn’t indicate what those substances may have been. The former officer also testified that the police cruiser involved in the crash was valued at $25,000.

The court bound the case over to the grand jury, which is scheduled to hear testimony on May 20. The accused woman is currently being held by the Tennessee Department of Corrections.

The fact that someone died in this accident is tragic, but proving vehicular homicide may not be all that clear cut. There are high standards of proof for determining whether a death is homicide or manslaughter, and a strong criminal defense is necessary to ensure that the accused receives a fair trial.

Source: WSMV.com, "TN vehicular homicide case heads to grand jury," Bliss Bowman Wade, May 5, 2014

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