, Corbin, KY

January 29, 2013

Meredith trial set for Feb. 25

The Times-Tribune

CORBIN — By Jeff Noble, Staff Writer

The trial of a Tennessee man charged with murder in a traffic crash on I-75 near Corbin last July has been set for late next month.

Monday, Feb. 25, will be the day Austin T. Meredith, 24, of Sevierville, Tenn., will face Circuit Judge Gregory D. Lay and a jury in the trial, to be held at 9 a.m. in Laurel Circuit Court in London. That announcement was made during Meredith’s pre-trial hearing Monday.

Meredith continues to be in custody at the Laurel County Detention Center.

The crash occurred in the early morning of Saturday, July 7, 2012, at the 30-mile marker of I-75 in Laurel County, north of Exit 29 in North Corbin.

Howard M. “Red” White, 49, of the Shelby County community of Bagdad, was operating a rollback wrecker when he stopped in the emergency lane to see if his load was secure. While White was outside his wrecker, a box truck driven by Meredith crossed the fog line, striking White and the parked wrecker. White was killed instantly.

When officers with Kentucky State Police-Vehicle Enforcement responded to the scene, they discovered White dead at the scene. Police also found two passengers who were in the wrecker at the time of the collision. They were not injured.

Officers found Meredith under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash, with one officer saying alcohol was a direct factor on the collision. He was arrested and charged with murder, wanton endangerment, DUI and several commercial vehicle violations.

After his arrest, Meredith was jailed in the Laurel Detention Center.

Nearly a month later, a pre-trial hearing for Meredith was held. His attorney, David Hoskins, requested a reduction of Meredith’s bond at $100,000, which was denied.

On Aug. 17, Meredith was indicted by the Laurel County Grand Jury for the murder charge. He was also charged with two counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, driving under the influence of alcohol and failure to maintain vehicle insurance. In addition, Meredith was charged with three misdemeanors — failing to properly maintain his log book, failing to have a medical certificate and failing to have a U.S. Department of Transportation number.

On a separate note, the pre-trial conference for Jeffrey Sweeney has been rescheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 12, at 9 a.m. in Laurel Circuit Court, with Circuit Judge Tom Jensen presiding.

The conference was originally set for last Friday, but was postponed due to the icy weather in the area.

Sweeney, 46, of London, was charged with murder of Teresa A. White, 50, of Newby Lane, west of London, last March 29. She died in a fire to her mobile home on Newby Lane off Waterworks Road, after Sweeney had reportedly visited there earlier. A second person is also wanted in her death.

Sweeney was arrested by Kentucky State Police on May 28, and indicted by the Laurel County Grand Jury last June 15. In addition to the murder charge, he was also charged with first-degree robbery, first-degree arson and tampering with physical evidence.