TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Local News

April 22, 2014

Trial date set for woman in deadly crash case

CORBIN — By John L. Ross / Staff Writer

A woman facing charges connected with a July 2013 single-vehicle car crash that killed 45-year-old John E. Faulkner now has a September trial date set.

Donnetta D. Bell, 22, of Williamsburg, appeared before Judge Paul Winchester in Whitley County Circuit Court Monday with her defense attorney, Jim Wren.

Bell faces charges of leaving the scene of an accident and failure to render aid or assistance — and was slated for a May 1 trial.

She now is scheduled for trial Sept. 22.

Wren discussed two motions he filed — one of which was to renew a motion for a bond reduction.

She currently remains jailed on a $25,000 cash bond.

However, Winchester reminded her that at her Jan. 21 court appearance, she “was given the opportunity for a surety bond.”

“Why didn’t she follow that?” the judge asked Wren. “All she had to do was get processed.”

After she failed to get processed at the Whitley County Detention Center in January, an arrest warrant for her was issued. In February, Whitley County Sheriff Colan Harrell said that he, Chief Deputy Kenny “KY” Fuson and Detective Tim Baker responded to a tip that Bell was at a home on Little Wolf Creek Road in Whitley County. She was at that home, Harrell said — Baker arrested her.

In court Monday, Bell explained to Winchester that her mother had passed away and she had been the only one able to help her get out of jail.

Bell then added that her husband was now out of jail, and that if she did make bail she was to stay with him.

Winchester explained that if she is offered a lower bond she would have to stay at home upon her release, and if she did need to leave the residence, she needed prior approval. There must also be a land-based telephone line active in the residence, the judge added.

The other motion filed by Wren concerned continuing the May 1 trial date — which was granted, and a Sept. 22 trial date was scheduled.

According to Fuson, Bell was allegedly behind the wheel of Faulkner’s Mercury Grand Marquis driving north on U.S. 25W when she attempted to pass slower-moving vehicles.

Fuson said witnesses saw the Mercury go completely out of control for an unknown reason. It left the left side of the road and slammed into a pine tree, then dropped down an embankment.

Faulkner was pronounced dead at the scene by Coroner Andy Croley.

After the crash in July, Harrell said the driver, allegedly Bell, was seen leaving the crash site in another vehicle.

“We know she caught a ride to Jellico, (Tenn.),” Harrell said. “She went to a friend’s home — while she was there, she just dropped (to) the floor.”

Harrell said it was known Bell was being sought by law enforcement.

“The friend knew she was wanted,” he said. “(The friend) called 911 and reported her location, then called for an ambulance.”

Campbell County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the call, and located Bell in treatment at Jellico Community Hospital.

He added that Bell waived extradition and was brought back to Whitley County Aug. 1.

JailTracker records indicate Bell has twice before been arrested for fleeing the scene of an accident and failing to render aid or assistance — both times in 2011.

She was originally jailed in the detention center under a $250,000 cash bond with an ankle bracelet requirement — and JailTracker records indicate she was released on that bond Dec. 3.

She was originally charged with reckless homicide related to Faulkner’s death, but in December, Bell was indicted for leaving the scene of an accident after the July 31 single-vehicle crash claimed Faulkner’s life.

The indictment states that Bell allegedly “wrecked her automobile and failed to render aid, which resulted in the death of …Faulkner, who was a passenger in (the) vehicle.”

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