Mistrial in Tackett Trial From Fatal Crash

The weeklong trial of Pamela Tackett, came to end Friday evening just after five, when a mistrial was declared by Judge Don Hocker. This came after the foreman of the Jury, a second time, that the jury was hopelessly deadlocked. The foreman had sent a note to the judge around four pm that they were deadlocked, but the jury was requested to continue trying to reach a verdict. Pamela M. Tackett tried this week for charges of Felony DUI with Death, Felony DUI with Bodily Injury and with Child Endangerment.

When Judge Hocker received the second notification from the jury, he asked the foreman if he thought that saying later in the evening or returning over the weekend would help them come to a unanimous decision, but the foreman replied that it would not.

When the mistrial was declared, the man who survived being struck by a vehicle as he was working in the median of Interstate 385, John Howell of Woodruff, rose and walked out of the courtroom, apparently in anger; but he was escorted back to his seat. His family and the family of Zacheriah Ivey of Cowpens, who died from his injuries last March, were in tears and apparently upset with the situation.

The jury had heard closing arguments just before lunch Friday. In his closing statement, Assistant Solicitor Mowry told the jury, “When we

hear of drunk driving, we think of someone who had a case of beer and went down the road. The law says not only is drunk driving considered driving under the influence or driving with illegal drugs in the driver’s system but prescription drugs.” Mowry said, “We are talking about someone who has taken enough substance that has impaired her ability to drive and is no longer a safe driver on the road. She drove her vehicle and caused the death of a victim and injury to another and put a 4-year-old in danger. Witness described her car approaching theirs in an erratic manor, zig zagging between lanes.” Mowry reminded the jury, “One witness described the event as he said she came up on them, backed off and they let the car go by. Another witness testified that she saw the defendant swerving and said to herself that she must slow down to let this girl get by.” The prosecutor added, “Those witnesses that saw the wreck happen said that the

defendant’s car came all the way across the highway, the shoulder, and through the cable barriers.”

The Prosecutor’s statement concluded with instructions to the jury not to lose sight of the forest for the trees. He showed photos of the shoulder signs warning of the work being done, then he showed a picture of a truck with bright warnings, the bright work vests worn by the victims. Mowry said the defendant voluntarily took all the drugs and then she intentionally drove her car while impaired on a toxic brew that set-in motion all the events that brought us here.”

In the closing arguments for the defense, Attorney Stoddard indicated that we don’t always see things as they are, noting the burden of proof is on the prosecution. He asked the jurors to ask could there be other possibilities of what happened, “maybe a mini-stroke, a seizure, a loss of consciousness.”

He suggested there is evidence in this case that contradicts impairment. He asked jurors, “Did you see that her appearance changed from the scene, to the hospital, they looked for if she could get her license out of the vehicle, I submit that I didn’t believe her vision was blurred.  She suffers from anxiety, this is one who does not deal with stress very well.” He suggested she had presence of mind to respond to questions at the hospital that she could not at the scene, when she was in shock.

The defense also suggested the toxicology report is very

important, noting “You will find out that her prescriptions were all under the

therapeutic level.” He also argued that Tackett had been on these drugs for five years, which should have built up a tolerance.

In declaring a mistrial, Judge Don Hocker told the jury that he appreciated their hard work, noting that sometimes juries are unable to reach a verdict.

After the mistrial was declared, Prosecutor Mowry said, “We will just have to try again.” Defense Attorney Stoddard said that the defendant is having a test for Narcolepsy in May, suggesting that when the case is retried that may help in Ms. Tackett’s defense.