A Knoxville woman who fled from the Tennessee Highway Patrol in a car in Anderson County last year as methamphetamine and heroin were discarded from the moving vehicle pleaded guilty to four charges and was sentenced to eight years in prison on Tuesday.
About 60 grams of methamphetamine and less than a gram of heroin were thrown out of a car window and two patrol vehicles were hit during the police chase, which started in Clinton and ended in Rocky Top on Sunday, July 30, 2017, according to court proceedings and affidavits.
The plea agreement hearing for the driver of the 1992 Honda Accord, Clarissa Sharee Tindell, 25, was Tuesday in Anderson County Criminal Court in Clinton. Her plea was by information, meaning she entered a plea before she was formally charged in an indictment by the Anderson County Grand Jury. Early pleas can lead to agreements more favorable to defendants.
Tindell, who was represented by defense attorney Paul Sexton of Oak Ridge, had been charged earlier in Anderson County General Sessions Court in Clinton in a case that included additional counts such as aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during a felony, speeding (117 mph in a 45 mph zone), and failure to yield the right of way, among other charges. Those charges were waived to the Grand Jury on June 6.
On Tuesday, Tindell pleaded guilty to possession of more than 0.5 grams of methamphetamine for resale, possession of heroin for resale, reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, and driving on a suspended license. She received eight-year sentences for each of the two drug-related charges, a two-year sentence for reckless endangerment, and a six-month sentence for driving on a suspended license. Her sentences are concurrent, meaning they run at the same time. That gives her an effective eight-year sentence, with a release eligibility date of 30 percent. She will receive credit for time served, and she has already served the six-month sentence.
Tindell has to pay $4,000 in fines, pay court costs, and register on a drug registry, according to the criminal judgement read in court by Anderson County Criminal Court Judge Don Elledge.
Affidavits filed in Anderson County General Sessions Court last year said THP Trooper Isaiah Lloyd tried to stop the black Honda sedan driven by Tindell on July 30 for failure to yield the right of way and a turn signal violation at the intersection of State Route 61 (North Charles G. Seivers Boulevard) and Longmire Road in Clinton, near the Clinch River and Anderson County Detention Facility.
The 1992 Honda Accord had cut off a red pickup truck at the intersection, Lloyd said.
But the car refused to stop after he activated his emergency equipment, Lloyd said.
While the Honda was traveling down Longmire Road, the car occupants threw two items out the window, according to Lloyd:
- a baby formula can that contained a jar with about 63.93 grams of methamphetamine, and
- a black metal box that contained a set of scales, 0.53 grams of heroin, and multiple plastic bags.
(The drug amounts cited in court on Tuesday were a bit different—59.38 grams of meth and 0.26 grams of heroin.)
After the occupants discarded the drugs, the car turned north on Highway 25W (Lake City Highway), headed toward Medford, Lloyd said in the affiadavits.
“After blowing through a stop sign, the vehicle then crossed a double yellow line, almost striking two Anderson County patrol cars head-on (Shawn Bannach and Mark Whaley),” Lloyd said.
The chase continued north on Highway 25W through Rocky Top and onto Highway 116, Lloyd said. It proceeded into Campbell County and onto Cherry Bottom Road, which turns into Oak Grove Road and loops back to US Highway 441 (Norris Freeway). The Honda turned right (north) onto Highway 441, headed back into Rocky Top.
“While traveling north on US 441, after going under the I-75 underpass, the vehicle then attempted to make a left turn onto Sunshine Drive,” Lloyd said. “The vehicle’s speeds were too fast to make the turn, resulting in the vehicle running over a curb, busting a tire, and continuing the pursuit.”
The car reportedly busted its left front tire when it struck the concrete curb.
The car then struck THP Trooper Stephen Barclay’s patrol vehicle and continued driving, striking the patrol car of Anderson County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Zach Bates, Lloyd said.
The car was stopped at the intersection of US Highway 441 and Highway 116 in Rocky Top, the former Lake City.
Officers arrested Tindell and her passenger, Steven Dewayne Atchley, now 21, of Knoxville, the THP said.
When they searched the car, officers found a loaded Smith and Wesson Bodyguard .380 that had been reported stolen in Morgan County, Lloyd said.
Tindell’s license was suspended at the time of the chase, and she had two active warrants in Knox County, Lloyd said.
Atchley, meanwhile, had a warrant in Union County, according to Lloyd.
Atchley is also facing charges, and his case is still pending, according to Anderson County court records.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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