A Gray Court woman accused of killing a man on I-385 while driving under the influence of prescription drugs took the stand in her own defense Thursday afternoon on the fourth day of her trial at the Hillcrest Judicial Complex.
Pamela Michelle Tackett, 32, was on the witness stand for more than two hours, saying that she remembers singing with her friend’s young daughter, who was strapped into a car seat in the rear seat of the SUV Tackett was driving. She also said she remembered talking to an OnStar operator after the accident, but she has no recollection of the wreck itself.
“I didn’t see the wreck happen or anything,” Tackett said. “I don’t remember what happened.”
Eighth Circuit Judge Donald B. Hocker is expected to send the trial to the jury of five men and seven women Friday morning. The defense rested its case just before 5 p.m. Thursday.
On March 28 of last year, Tackett’s car slammed into a Bagwell Fencing work truck near Exit 19 on I-385 as workmen with the company worked on the catch fence in the median.
Zach Ivey of Cowpens was struck and thrown into the highway’s northbound lanes, while John Howell was hit and critically injured in the accident. Ivey died hours later at Greenville Memorial Hospital from his injuries.
Prosecutors have attempted to prove that a combination of prescribed antidepressants, anti-seizure medication and illegal marijuana use caused Tackett to pass out behind the wheel. Witnesses testified that she had been driving erratically northbound on I-385 before she slammed into the work truck and the two workers.
Anderson defense attorney David Stoddard told the jury an underlying medical condition, not drugs, caused Tackett to pass out behind the wheel of the silver SUV before the accident. Tackett suffers from anxiety, migraines, phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to testimony.
Nancy Goodbar, assistant dean for professional and student affairs at the Presbyterian School of Pharmacy, was introduced as an expert witness by Stoddard and said it was possible that the drugs in Tackett’s system were a non-factor in the accident.
“These (drugs) had been on board (in the body) for quite a while, and the side effects would not just appear,” Goodbar said.
Knox McMahon, special assistant solicitor for the 8th Circuit, grilled Goodbar about the possible exponential side effects caused by multiple prescription drugs in Tackett’s system coupled with marijuana.
As a reply witness to both Goodbar and Tackett, South Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper David Terry testified that he was sent to Greenville Memorial Hospital to observe Tackett in the hours following the accident.
“I believe she was under the influence of drugs based on my experience as a police officer,” said Terry, a 15-year veteran of law enforcement.
McMahon painted Tackett as a person more concerned with her own minor injuries than the condition of Ivey as he lay dying, or Howell, who was critically injured.
After closing statements from the prosecution and defense Friday, the jury will deliberate on charges of felony DUI resulting in death and child endangerment.