Evidence ruling delayed in vehicular homicide case

Becky Campbell • Oct 19, 2013 at 9:26 PM

A busy court schedule caused a judge on Friday to delay his ruling in a 2012 vehicular homicide case where the defendant wants his blood alcohol test results suppressed, but he issued a second warning about the alleged use of social media to contact the victim’s family.

Brandon Lee Pickering, 123 Ferd Henley Road, is charged with vehicular homicide in the May 10, 2012, death of Britanny Hankal. Evidence in the case shows Pickering’s blood-alcohol content was .08 several hours after the crash.

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.

Judge Robert Cupp heard testimony earlier this month on the suppression motion filed by Pickering’s attorney, Jim Bowman, and was expected to render a ruling Friday.

But because of heavy court dockets, Cupp hasn’t had time to review case law relating to the matter.

During the hearing on Oct. 9, Assistant District Attorney General Robin Ray told Cupp that someone in Pickering’s family had been contacting Hankal’s sister through Facebook. 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 at the time.

On Friday, he learned there had been additional attempts to contact Hankal’s sister, possibly from Pickering’s mother or girlfriend.

Cupp told Pickering to tell his family to stop any contact because it would only cause him trouble in the long run.

Hankal’s sister, Ashley Ervin, has filed for orders of protection against Pickering and the two women. She said after Friday’s hearing that Pickering’s mother had violated that temporary order. That matter will be heard later this month.

Pickering remains free on a $100,000 bond while his case is pending. His next court date is Nov. 14.

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