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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Thacker sentenced in vehicular homicide
Several defendants were sentenced Monday by Judge Ben Hooper in Cocke County Circuit Court. Garrett Thacker, 46, Cosby, entered a guilty plea to charges of vehicular homicide and DUI, stemming from a crash on April 9, 2016, which claimed the life of Joshua Ellison, 26, Newport. The crash occurred at 4:46 a.m. on Wilton Springs Road near the intersection with South Highway 321, when the auto left the roadway at a high rate of speed, went airborne and hit a utility pole. The pole was sheared off, and the auto rolled several times, ejecting Ellison. A Critical Incident Response Team concluded that Ellison was restrained. "It was such a violent crash that it ripped the seatbelt out of the vehicle," according to Trooper Bradley Robbins who investigated the crash. During the hearing, Asst. Prosecutor Tonya Thornton told the court that the defendant "had a high blood alcohol level." Judge Hooper imposed a nine-year sentence, however Thacker will be on probation after serving 105 days in jail. His license was revoked for three years, he will pay a $350 fine, will undergo drug and alcohol assessment and attend DUI school. Thacker also may have no contact with Rhonda Fine or her minor child. Thornton told the court that a new law passed in July, 2016 prohibits probation in vehicular homicide cases since that time. Christopher Lee Webb, 24, Shale Road, Newport, had earlier pleaded guilty to assault as well as several burglaries, thefts and vandalism. he was given an 11 month 29 day sentence which will be served until October 19. The balance of the term along with a six year sentence will be served on probation. Webb read a statement in which he apologized to his victims, his mother and the court. "I started using methamphetamine, and the more I used, the more I wanted to use," the defendant to the court. Adding that he didn't remember committing some of the thefts because of his drug usage. The defendant said he used drugs because he was hurt by someone who he believed cared for him, but Judge Hooper disagreed saying "You made those choices and you are responsible for your choices." Two other defendants face stiff fines after they pleaded guilty to drug offenses. Cynthia Williamson, 46, Sunrise Drive, Newport entered a guilty plea to two counts each of possession with intent to sell oxymorphone and oxycodone, sale of schedule II and possession of drug paraphernalia. She will serve 120 days of a four-year term with the balance on supervised release. Williamson also will pay a $10,150 fine and $40 in restitution. Gary Lewis Hall, 32, Buffalo Road, Bybee, entered a guilty plea to four counts of the sale of oxymorphone as well as failure to appear in court. The defendant will serve six months of a four-year sentence with the balance on probation. He also will pay an $8,000 fine and $460 in restitution. "Think about how much damage has been done by drugs," Judge Hooper told Hall.

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