Note: This story was last updated at 1:18 p.m. Jan. 16.
The 17 charges against an Oak Ridge man accused of killing one person and injuring 11 others in a July 4 fireworks crash at Midtown Community Center have been sent to an Anderson County grand jury.
The charges against Lee Cromwell of Oak Ridge include homicide and aggravated assault. Cromwell had a five-hour preliminary hearing in Anderson County General Sessions Court on Friday, January 15. It included testimony for the prosecution from victims, witnesses, police officers, and an automotive technician. Prosecutor Vickie Bannach was trying to establish probable cause for the charges to be sent to the grand jury.
The next step is for the Anderson County District Attorney General’s Office to present evidence to the grand jury for possible indictments against Cromwell.
Anderson County General Sessions Court Judge Roger Miller said he found that probable cause had been met for the charges to be bound over to the grand jury. There is no timeline for when the grand jury might hear the case.
Miller said the case was a “tragedy for everyone involved.”
Among other testimony Friday, Oak Ridge Police Department Officer Ben Higgins disputed the claim that the throttle might have been stuck on the Dodge Ram pickup truck driven backward through the crowded parking lot by Cromwell after fireworks ended across the street in A.K. Bissell Park. Higgins and crash victim Michael Eldridge testified that Cromwell told them that his throttle had stuck.
But testimony by Eldridge on Friday said Cromwell hit a Ford Thunderbird while backing slowly through the parking lot after fireworks, stopped, continued backing slowly until he hit a van, stopped, and then “floored it” before hitting a group of cars in front of the Midtown Community Center, injuring people and killing Robinson.
Defense attorney Jim Scott said he expects that mechanical issues and questions about the Dodge Ram pickup will be raised in additional legal proceedings, and he’s still viewing the July 4 crash as an unintentional acceleration.
The charges against Cromwell include three different types of homicide charges, 12 counts of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, and a charge of driving on a suspended license.
Cromwell remains free on a $100,000 bond.
See previous stories on the crash here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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