An Oak Ridge woman facing three misdemeanor charges in a fatal car-motorcycle crash on North Illinois Avenue in January is expected to enter a plea next week, waive the charges to a grand jury, or set a date for a preliminary hearing, court officials said Thursday.
Judge Roger Miller, of Anderson County General Sessions Court Division II in Oak Ridge, said he doesn’t want to reset the case against Noelle Leigh Patty, 29, again. Patty had a status hearing on Thursday, September 1.
She has another status hearing set for 9 a.m. Thursday, September 8, in the Division II court in Oak Ridge. Patty does not have to appear.
The three misdemeanor charges filed against her are failure to yield the right-of-way, resulting in death; a violation of the law to obey traffic control devices; and a failure to provide proof of financial responsibility.
Authorities said Patty, who was driving a Cadillac STS on Sunday evening, January 31, made an improper left turn from a right-turn-only lane at the western exit of the Westcott Center, the Kroger shopping center, and she failed to yield to Rufus E. Shephard III, 44, of Oak Ridge, who was riding a Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle north on North Illinois Avenue. Shephard died after colliding with the car, which was turning south in “the pathway of northbound traffic,” Oak Ridge Police Department Officer Chris Luethge said in arrest warrants filed after the crash.
The arrest warrants were filed February 22. Patty was released on citations, according to court records.
During a preliminary hearing, a judge can hear from victims, witnesses, and investigators, and determine whether there is probable cause to send charges to a grand jury for its consideration. If a grand jury indicts a defendant, the charges are bumped from general sessions court to criminal court. If a general sessions court judge does not find probable cause during a preliminary hearing, charges can be dismissed from general sessions court.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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