Trial Of Truck Driver Charged In Wreck That Killed 6 People Again Delayed

Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Benjamin Brewer
Benjamin Brewer

The trial of a truck driver charged in six traffic deaths near the Ooltewah exit of I-75 has again been delayed.

Criminal Court Judge Don Poole had been scheduled to travel to Nashville on Thursday to again pick an outside jury, then start hearing proof on Monday here.

However, there is a snag about getting a federal witness for the defense.

The federal government is resisting sending a lab technician from Oklahoma to Chattanooga for the trial of Benjamin Brewer.

Mike Little of the public defender's office said the defense should be entitled to have a live witness, but he also said he did not want the trial delayed again.

A jury was selected in Nashville in June, then the case was postponed when the defense said it had just learned that the federal test of Brewer's blood at the time of the wreck showed much less meth in it than the state test did.

Leah McClanahan, of the U.S. Attorney's Office, said if Judge Poole did not uphold the government's request to block the subpoena for the federal lab technician that she would appeal to a federal judge. She said that would mean the case would be delayed again.

She said the defense has the lab report that shows a lower meth level than the results from the TBI lab.

She also said she would check to see if someone from the lab could be available for a deposition. 

She cited laws that block federal employees from having to testify in state litigation, saying it interferes with their federal jobs and brings expense to the federal government.

Attorney Little said the state is going to be able to bring a TBI lab technician to the stand and the defense is not going to be able to counter with its own live witness.

Prosecutor McClanahan said the defense can quiz the TBI witness about the different result from the federal lab.

Brewer is now due back in court on Oct. 17.

The wreck in May of 2015 was near the I-75 exit for Ooltewah. 

Authorities said vehicles were slowed due to construction when a truck driven by Brewer came plowing into the vehicles - some of which caught fire.

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