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Vehicular homicide trial in woman's 2012 death delayed

March 25th, 2014 10:06 pm by Becky Campbell

Vehicular homicide trial in woman's 2012 death delayed

Cody Dingus, pictured after his Feb. 14, 2012 arrest for vehicular manslaughter.

A vehicular homicide trial scheduled to begin Wednesday will now only be a hearing on state motions to prevent the defense from presenting evidence about the defendant’s lack of criminal history or the victim’s alcohol use.

Cody L. Dingus, 23, 1216 Fiddler’s Way, Kingsport, is charged with vehicular homicide, evading arrest and assault in the Feb. 14, 2012, crash that killed his girlfriend, 18-year-old Sheridan Nicole Edwards, also of Kingsport.

Dingus’ attorney, Ricky Spivey, has a recent medical issue that will prevent him from conducting a trial, according to a motion he filed. The motion hearing is still on tap for today.

It happened on Knob Creek Road just before 10 p.m. after Dingus and Edwards argued and he allegedly forced her out of a vehicle at University Edge Apartments.

When city police arrived on the domestic call, Dingus fled with Edwards in his vehicle. Officer Brett Jenkins pursued the vehicle, but terminated the pursuit after Dingus ran two red lights and continued to speed on West Market Street and onto Knob Creek Road.

After Jenkins stopped the pursuit, he continued driving along Knob Creek and came upon Dingus’ wrecked vehicle. Both Dingus and Edwards had been thrown from the car, according to court records. Edwards died from her injures and Dingus was seriously injured.

Police estimated Dingus was driving more than 80 mph at the time of the crash. The car rolled several times, police said, and the two were ejected.

Two weeks ago attorneys in the case argued a defense motion in which Spivey wanted to keep his client’s blood alcohol content out of evidence. According to court records, Dingus had a .23 blood alcohol content about 30 minutes after the wreck and a .20 blood alcohol content 2½ hours after the crash.

Crash investigators from the Tennessee Highway Patrol requested one of those blood draws while the other was taken for treatment purposes. Dingus was unconscious after the crash and could not consent to or refuse a blood test. Investigators did not attempt to obtain a warrant for the blood, and the defense says that violated Dingus’ rights.

After hearing arguments on the issue, Criminal Court Judge Stacy Street ruled the evidence can be used by prosecutors during the trial.

Prosecutors have filed several motions in the last couple of weeks as well. One addresses any attempt the defense might make to show Edwards had also been drinking that day.

Assistant District Attorney Ken Baldwin, in the motion, stated “such information is irrelevant to (the) defendant’s guilt or innocence of this particular crime. It provides no relevant material to a trial on the merits. Further, mention of potential conduct on the part of the victim regarding her use of alcohol, blood alcohol results and/or toxicology results, or the lack thereof, may unfairly prejudice the jury toward a finding of innocence, regardless of the facts presented.”

There is nothing in the record to indicate Edwards was drinking that day, but the motion to limit the defense from mentioning it gives some indication on that issue.

Dingus is free on a $100,000 bond while his case is pending.

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