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Elizabethton man gets 12 years in prison of killing Unicoi woman in crash

March 25th, 2014 3:32 pm by Brad Hicks

Elizabethton man gets 12 years in prison of killing Unicoi woman in crash

Randy Julian

ERWIN — A Carter County man charged in a 2012 collision that killed a Unicoi woman was sentenced to serve 12 years in prison on Tuesday after pleading guilty to vehicular homicide and multiple counts of vehicular assault.

Randy Lee Julian, of Elizabethton, appeared in Unicoi County Criminal Court to plead guilty to these charges and others. Julian pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide which, per his plea, was amended from aggravated vehicular homicide. He also pleaded guilty to three counts of vehicular assault, driving on a suspended driver's license and failure to maintain financial responsibility.

According to police officials, Unicoi resident Tabetha Grindstaff was killed in a March 27, 2012, collision and her three passengers — her two children, then ages 5 and 9, and an adult male — were injured in the crash.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol report issued after the collision stated that vehicle driven by Grindstaff was traveling eastbound on Sciota Road while the vehicle drive by Julian was traveling westbound. Julian's vehicle crossed the center line of the road, and Grindstaff ran off the roadway in an attempt to avoid the collision.

The two vehicles vehicles struck head-on near the road's eastbound shoulder according to the THP report. THP Trooper Jim Jackson previously said Unicoi County Coroner Ed Herndon pronounced Grindstaff dead at the scene.

During the investigation, Julian told officials that he taken methadone and prescription medication the day of the collision, according to police officials.

A Unicoi County grand jury indicted Julian on charges related to the case in October 2012.

At Tuesday's hearing, Criminal Court Judge Robert Cupp said he was going along with a statement made by the prosecution that it could not prove at trial that Julian was under the influence when the crash occurred.

"Mr. Julian, you've dodged a bullet," Cupp said.

"My expert's opinion wasn't determinant if he was too impaired too drive," Assistant District Attorney General Ryan Curtis said following Tuesday's hearing.

Julian told Cupp that on the day of the collision, he had gotten off work and was traveling on Sciota Road coming from Elizabethton when he fell asleep. Julian said he had taken benzodiazepine and sleep aid medication.

Julian also told Cupp he had regrets over what had occurred.

"It's the last thing on my mind when I go to bed at night and the first thing when I wake up in the morning," Julian said.

For his plea to vehicular homicide, Julian received a 10-year prison sentence. He received sentences of six years imprisonment on each of the vehicular assault pleas, and five months 29 days on the driving on suspended license plea, and these will run concurrently with the vehicular homicide sentence.

Julian also pleaded guilty to three charges related to a case out of Carter County. In January 2013, he driving under the influence, driving on a suspended license and felony reckless endangerment. He received a total sentence of two years in prison for these pleas, which will run consecutively to the sentence in the Unicoi County case.

Restitution was also ordered in the Unicoi County case, and Julian is scheduled to again appear in Unicoi County Criminal Court on May 7 for the judge to determine what this restitution may be. 

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