After deliberating for most of Friday afternoon, a jury was unable to return a verdict in a felony DUI case against a Gray Court woman, and a mistrial was declared just after 5 p.m. at the Hillcrest Judicial Complex.
Pamela Michelle Tackett, 32, was charged with felony DUI resulting in death, felony DUI with injury and child endangerment for her role in a March 2018 crash that killed one man and critically injured another.
Four days of testimony in the case was followed by closing arguments from prosecutors and defense attorney David Stoddard, who said underlying medical conditions caused his client to veer off of I-385 and into a work truck sitting in the median near Exit 19 north of Gray Court. Stoddard said Tackett suffers from phobias, anxiety and post-traumatic stress syndrome and other mental disorders.
Prosecutors from the 8th Circuit Solicitor’s Office claimed Tackett was under the influence of several prescription medications as well as marijuana on the morning of the accident, and she drove despite warnings that those medications could impair her ability to drive.
But it was not enough to convince the jury of seven women and five men beyond a reasonable doubt.
“We’ll try it again,” said Deputy Solicitor Warren Mowry following the mistrial, which caused an emotional reaction from one of the victims of the accident and the families of both victims.
John Howell, who was critically injured and is walking with the aid of a cane, erupted angrily after the mistrial was announced and attempted to leave the courtroom before being ordered to return to his seat by Judge Donald B. Hocker.
Howell spent months in the hospital after his legs were severely injured in the crash. His Bagwell Fence co-worker, Zach Ivey, was gravely injured and died hours later at Greenville Memorial Hospital.
Tackett, who was accompanied at the trial by several friends and family members, was stoic. She will remain free on bond while awaiting the retrial.
Stoddard said he doesn’t expect the retrial take place for several months.
Hocker received two notes from the jury foreman saying that the jury was deadlocked. After receiving the first note, Hocker asked the jurors to try again and reach a verdict, but a little more than an hour later, the foreman wrote, “we are divided with little movement, and little movement is expected.”
Before declaring the mistrial, Hocker asked the jury foreman if returning Saturday for another deliberation would help the jury reach a verdict. The answer was, “no.”