Jeremy Allen Lane pleaded not guilty to DUI and vehicular homicide in a hit-and-run accident that left a 42 year-old mother dead, and officers at the scene failed to perform a
sobriety test, as reported in the Times Free Press and other media.
Witnesses alone testified to Lane's alleged public drunkenness in Hamilton County Criminal Court on March 2. District Attorney General Bill Cox and Assistant District Attorney Neal Pinkston said that Lane had slurred speech, watery eyes and "reeked of alcohol" after the incident on December 23, 2009.
Lane, 26, allegedly left his job at the Chattanooga Billiard Club a little after 7 a.m. and drove toward the North Shore. On his way he encountered Susan Wood at the intersection of Walnut and Fourth Streets.
Wood was headed, on foot, to get to her job at Unum.
Lane struck her with his car and she died within hours.
Then, prosecutors allege, Lane left the scene in his red 1995 Nissan 240SX sports car. The car was later located at an apartment building on Dallas Road with a dented hood and a smashed windshield on the passenger side.
On March 1 Lane pleaded guilty to two of the four charges stemming from the accident: Filing a false report and leaving the scene of an accident. However, he pleaded not guilty to both DUI and vehicular homicide.
Police contend that Lane made up a quick story about being carjacked to hide his role in the accident.
A store clerk from the Kangaroo Express on Dallas Road, Rochelle Blakey, was the first person to see Lane after the accident. Lane entered the store while calling 911 on his cellular phone to report the accident.
Blakey said, "He asked the address of the store and told me he just got robbed.
He was intoxicated. He had a horrified look on his face; he was sweating and choppy, but he wasn't crying."
The courtroom was shown video footage retrieved from the store's camera. In it they saw Lane purchasing chips and a drink while carrying on his conversation with the 911 operator.
Officer Brian Smith, with the Chattanooga police, arrived approximately 20 minutes after Lane made the 911 call.
The investigator for Chattanooga property crimes, Josh Meyer stated, "He smelled so strong of intoxicant that when he answered questions, I asked him to direct his breath away from me."
While Meyer continued questioning Lane about the alleged carjacking, police grew more and more suspicious that Lane was drunk.
Then Lane admitted to Meyer that he had drunk a six-pack of beer with a coworker after hours in the billiard parking lot. However, the incident wasn't recorded on the club's videotape.
That footage showed him leaving at exactly 7:02 a.m.
Ashley Windham, Lane's manager at the billiard club, testified that she did not witness Lane drinking alcohol that morning.
While information started to come over on the police officer's radio about a carjacking - with a car description that matched Lane's - Officer Kenneth Hogans interviewed, and then challenged, Lane's carjacking story.
In further footage, this time at the scene, Hogans told Lane that he could either tell the truth or submit to a blood alcohol test. Lane, in holding fast to his story, chuckled and said, "I'm not going to do either one of those because my car was stolen."
Dan Ripper, Lane's defense attorney, challenged Hogans about not administering the DUI test at the scene but Hogans said that both he and his supervisor, Sgt. Albert Tallant, decided not to test Lane. Hogans said that he didn't have probable cause.
Hogans, now under suspension for missing an earlier hearing in the Lane case - which he has challenged as he said that he had not been subpoenaed -said, "I was a pawn in a political game, and I suffered the consequences. I got punished for doing my job."
Lane has a detailed history of DUI, and other arrests, that go back to 2003.
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