Man accused of vehicular homicide seeks blood test’s omission

Becky Campbell • Oct 9, 2013 at 9:44 PM

A Telford man accused of vehicular homicide by intoxication wants his blood test omitted from the case, and attorneys argued the motion in Washington County Criminal Court Wednesday.

Brandon Lee Pickering, 123 Ferd Henley Road, testified in the motions hearing about why he consented to having blood drawn after the crash on Telford New Victory Road that ultimately killed his fiancée, Britanny Hankal.

The wreck happened May 10, 2012, when Pickering apparently lost control of his vehicle and hit a tree.

Pickering’s blood-alcohol content was .08 several hours after the May 10 wreck that killed Hankal. According to a document filed by the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Pickering said he drank two 40-ounce beers between 8 p.m. the night before and 1 a.m. The report said he was driving too fast on Telford New Victory Road that night, lost control and hit a tree. Pickering and Hankal apparently had an argument prior to the crash, according to testimony at the preliminary hearing held last year.

During the suppression hearing Wednesday, THP Sgt. Jeff Appleba testified that when he approached Pickering at the wreck scene, he smelled alcohol coming from him. A short time later, Appleba took Pickering to a local hospital to have blood drawn for an alcohol test.

Appleba said he read the state implied consent form to Pickering, which details circumstances under which a blood draw is mandatory and also states that refusing the test could result in the person losing their license for one year.

Pickering testified that he agreed to the blood draw for two reasons — Appleba told him it was mandatory and that he didn’t want to lose his license for a year.

Appleba testified that if Pickering had refused the test, the license would have been taken anyway under the circumstances of the wreck and resulting injuries to Hankal.

The position of Pickering’s attorney, Jim Bowman, on the issue is the blood draw was illegal and should be suppressed.

Cupp heard all the evidence and attorneys’ arguments, but said he won’t rule until Oct. 18.

On another issue with the case, Assistant District Attorney General Robin Ray told Cupp that the victim’s family had reported “suspicious” messages sent to Hankal’s sister’s professional Facebook page. An investigation to the matter revealed the messages came from Pickering’s home, but Ray said she could not prove who sent them.

Cupp sternly ordered all parties to refrain from any type of contact.

“This case is tough enough case without all this other stuff going on,” he said.

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

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