A Knox County jury on Tuesday found a Tennessee truck driver guilty of manslaughter in connection with a fatal crash on Route 17 in Washington two years ago.
After deliberating for less than four hours, jurors found Randall Weddle, 55, formerly of Greenville, Tennessee, guilty on all 15 charges against him, including two counts of manslaughter, three counts of aggravated operating under the influence, two counts of driving to endanger and eight counts of violating various commercial vehicle violations.
Weddle was carrying a load of lumber on March 18, 2016, when he crashed into oncoming traffic, striking two cars and sending one into a field where it burst into flames.
Christina Torres-York, 45, of Warren, and Paul Fowles, 74, of Owls Head died in the crash.
Blood tests administered after the incident indicated that he was impaired at the time of the crash. He told investigators he was ill and on prescription medication.
The jury’s verdict concluded a trial that featured five days of testimony from survivors and witnesses of the crash. Weddle will be held without bail pending sentencing, which Justice William Stokes tentatively scheduled for March 29.
The jury began deliberations Monday afternoon and met for two hours before breaking for the night. Jurors resumed deliberations for an hour and a half Tuesday morning before issuing their verdict.
“These situations are always bittersweet,” District Attorney Jonathan Liberman said. “There is no undoing what happened. Two people are still dead.”
Liberman prosecuted the case with Assistant District Attorney Jeff Baroody. Weddle was represented by defense attorneys Christopher MacLean, Jeremy Pratt and Laura Shaw.
A manslaughter conviction carries a maximum 30 year prison sentence. Prior to trial, the prosecution offered a plea deal with a sentence of 30 years with all but 20 suspended, but the defense rejected the deal.
Liberman said the state will be asking for more than a 20 year sentence at the sentencing hearing in March.
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