CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — A Tennessee jury has convicted a Kentucky trucker of vehicular homicide and other charges in a 2015 wreck that killed six people on Interstate 75.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports the verdict was returned Thursday afternoon for 42-year-old Benjamin Brewer. He was found guilty of six counts of vehicular homicide, four counts of reckless aggravated assault and single counts of speeding and driving under the influence.
Prosecutors said Brewer was impaired on methamphetamine, ignored construction signs and never tapped the brakes when his tractor-trailer slammed into slowed traffic near the Ooltewah exit.
Defense lawyers said Brewer, of London, Kentucky, fell asleep at the wheel, toxicology reports were contaminated and prosecutors were overlooking helpful information.
The newspaper reported that when jurors returned their decision, they told Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Don Poole that Brewer was guilty of six counts of vehicular homicide, four counts of reckless aggravated assault and individual counts of speeding and driving under the influence.
Crash victims whose family members died in the June 25, 2015, crash nodded as jurors read off the guilty verdicts. One man watched with his hand over his mouth, only removing it to wipe away tears.
Prosecutors said Brewer was impaired on methamphetamine, ignored construction-ahead signs and never tapped the brakes when he slammed into stand-still traffic on I-75 near the Ooltewah exit. A combination of toxicology reports, traffic reconstruction experts and eyewitnesses would prove Brewer's criminal guilt, they said.
Public defenders said intoxication never caused the crash and that Brewer most likely dozed off behind the wheel.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 12. Brewer remains in custody.