Fatal wreck case headed to grand jury

Becky Campbell • Oct 23, 2012 at 10:43 PM

A vehicular homicide charge against a Jonesborough man will go to a grand jury after a preliminary hearing in the case Tuesday.

Brandon Pickering, 21, 124 Bill West Road, Jonesborough, is charged with vehicular homicide, failure to exercise due care and no proof of insurance in a May 10 crash that killed his fiance, Britany Jo Hankal.

The investigating officer, Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Jeff Appleba, testified at the hearing in Washington County Sessions Court that Pickering told him he’d drank two 40-ounce beers in the hours prior to the crash.

Appleba said he was dispatched to the crash on Telford-New Victory Road around 2 a.m. May 10 and found Pickering in custody by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. Hankal, a passenger in Pickering’s car, had already been transported from the scene.

“He said he was going too fast,” Appleba said. The trooper said Pickering drove into the oncoming lane in a curve, then crossed back over and went off the road and hit a tree.

“He said he and Ms. Hankal had been arguing and he was upset. He mentioned he thought he may have killed her,” Appleba testified.

There were no other witnesses in the hearing, but Assistant District Attorney General Ken Baldwin presented a toxicology report that showed Pickering’s blood alcohol content was .08 and a medical examiner’s report that stated Hankal died from blunt force trauma.

Pickering is free on a $100,000 bond. The case was reset for Oct. 23.

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