UPDATE: New jury to be selected for trial of truck driver Benjamin Brewer

UPDATE: We’re learning more about what a judge hit pause on the case against the truck driver charged in the crash that killed six people. Benjamin Brewer’s trial was supposed to start Monday but late last week, new material discovered by attorneys in the case forced the judge to postpone it. Blood tests show Brewer had methamphetamine and amphetamine in his system at the time of the I-75 in 2015.

But the amount in his system is in question. Brewer’s attorneys discovered last week a lab for the National Transportation Safety Board tested Brewer’s blood and found half of what the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s test found. With the 13 counts against Brewer relating to impairment, Mike Little argued Monday the difference is important to the case.

“Now that there is a new, or subsequent, or a second test that’s been brought to our attention, it casts doubt on the TBI’s result,” he said. An NTSB Accident Report released a year and a half after the crash notes the discrepancy but said a number of factors could have played a role, like a two month difference in when the tests were conducted. Prosecutors argue, despite the amounts of the drugs in Brewer’s system at the time of the crash, it’s still illegal.

“The statute doesn’t quantify that you can have so much meth in your blood and it’s for safety. Any level of meth in your system is contrary to state law,” District Attorney General Neal Pinkston said. Now a case that’s taken nearly two years to prepare for will take even longer but Judge Don Poole said it’s the right thing to do.

“Rather than waiting a year, or two years, or three years or four years to have an Appellate Court, a Post Conviction court, Writ of Error Court, a state court, a federal court to rule that the case was not fair,” Poole added. A new jury will be selected and sequestered in Chattanooga to hear the case which will include this new evidence. Attorneys will meet on Wednesday to decide on a new trial date.

PREVIOUS STORY: The day that the trial of truck driver Benjamin Brewer was scheduled to begin, new information from the state of Tennessee indicates why the trial was postponed Friday[1].

On Wednesday, June 14, the public defender’s office says they learned of a second toxicology test performed on Brewer. The results of the two tests are slightly different, causing concern among all parties.

Judge Poole: Both reports indicate he had meth and amphetamine in his system. Although the amounts differ. @WRCB[2]

— Michelle Heron (@MichelleWRCB) June 19, 2017[3]

That revelation led to a meeting between attorneys and Judge Don Poole Thursday, which resulted in Friday’s postponement after public defender Mike Little filed a motion for a legal remedy which prompted the delay.

A point of contention is the National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary report, which has been available to both sides since it’s release in October of 2016.

Brewer is being tried for the 2015 crash that claimed the lives of six people.

Pool ruled Monday that a new jury will be selected.

A new jury will be selected but defense has asked there not be a week before the trial starts after selection. @WRCB[4]

— Michelle Heron (@MichelleWRCB) June 19, 2017[5]


  1. ^ postponed Friday (www.wrcbtv.com)
  2. ^ @WRCB (twitter.com)
  3. ^ June 19, 2017 (twitter.com)
  4. ^ @WRCB (twitter.com)
  5. ^ June 19, 2017 (twitter.com)

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