Note: This story was updated at 4 p.m. July 25.
The state will not prosecute three misdemeanor charges that had been filed against an Oak Ridge woman after a fatal car-motorcycle crash more than two years ago, but prosecutors will proceed to trial on two felony charges: criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment.
The trial has been scheduled for Tuesday for Noelle Leigh Patty, 41, in Anderson County Criminal Court in Clinton. Patty has been charged with homicide in the death of motorcyclist Rufus E. Shephard III, 44, of Oak Ridge.
The court was notified of the state’s decision not to prosecute the three misdemeanor charges last week, and a judgement was filed Tuesday, July 17. The three misdemeanor charges are failure to yield the right of way resulting in death, failure to obey a traffic control device, and failure to provide evidence of insurance.
“The state has elected to go to trial only on the felony charges in Count 1 and 5,” said the state’s notice, filed last week by Seventh Judicial District Assistant District Attorney General Emily Faye Abbott.
The two felony counts to be tried on Tuesday are the charges of criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment when a deadly weapon is involved. In a court hearing on Friday, July 13, Anderson County Criminal Court Judge Don Elledge rejected a motion to dismiss those charges.
The fatal crash occurred between a Cadillac STS car and Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle on Sunday evening, January 31, 2016, at the western exit of the Westcott Center, the Kroger shopping center. Authorities said Patty, who was driving the Cadillac, made an improper left turn from a right-turn-only lane at that exit, and she failed to yield to Shephard, who was riding the motorcycle north on North Illinois Avenue. Shephard died after he collided 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.
Patty had initially been charged with the three misdemeanor counts of 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.
Charges against her were bound to the grand jury after a preliminary hearing in Anderson County General Sessions Court in Oak Ridge on January 19, 2017.
The two felony charges, criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment when a deadly weapon is involved, were added when the Anderson County Grand Jury filed indictments, formal accusations of a crime, on August 1.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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