, Corbin, KY

April 7, 2014

Trial date postponed for murder case

The Times-Tribune

CORBIN — By John L. Ross / Staff Writer

A May trial date scheduled in February has been “set aside” in the murder case against an Arjay woman accused of killing 11-year-old Nathaniel “Nathan” Lee Broughton in a 2012 car crash.

Melissa Ann Collett, 36, of Arjay, appeared in Knox County Circuit Court Friday for a pretrial conference before Judge Tom Jensen.

According to the circuit clerk’s office, Collett has a new attorney — Christopher Mills, of Barbourville.

She had been represented by Joseph Hammons — but it was unclear why a new attorney has been put in place.

Because of that, Collett’s May 8 trial date has been postponed, according to the circuit clerk’s office.

She is next scheduled to appear in court May 2 for another pretrial conference.

Collett remains jailed in the Knox County Detention Center under a $250,000 cash bond.

On May 22, 2012, Collett was allegedly driving a 2000 Pontiac Grand Am south on KY-223 when she reportedly crossed the center line — crashing into the car carrying Broughton and three others, two of whom were also children.

Girdler resident Domininque Broughton, who was 22 at the time of the crash, was driving a 2008 Mitsubishi Gallant north on KY-223 when her car was struck.

One year later in May 2013, Collett was named on a five-count indictment in Knox County Circuit Court.

The first count of that indictment charges her with murder after she allegedly drove a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants, then crashed that vehicle, killing Broughton and injuring three others.

Counts two through four indict her on three separate charges of first-degree assault after allegedly causing the crash and seriously injuring Dominique Broughton and two other young children.

The fifth count indicts Collett for her third offense of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants. She was previously convicted of this offense on two separate occasions in 2007 in Bell County.

Collett entered a not guilty plea in June. Then in September, her probation was revoked on an unrelated case, and after her hearing she was sentenced to one year to serve by Jensen.

In February, Collett’s then-attorney Hammons discussed his need for a continuance in this case, as he had just received additional evidence.

During that February appearance, other evidence discussed included the medical records of the other three victims in the crash.

There was some discussion concerning a plea offer, however, it was determined if the continuance was granted, “the offer made would be withdrawn.”

It was not clear whether the offer still stood after Friday’s hearing.

Kentucky court records indicate a civil action has been filed in this matter, but no date on that case has yet been listed.