CLINTON—Prosecutors and the defense have not been able to reach an agreement on a plea deal, so a two-day trial has been set for Jason Robert Braden II, the 25-year-old Anderson County man charged with two counts of vehicular homicide, among other charges, in the death of a three-year-old boy, Jason Robert Braden III, in a crash in Oak Ridge in January 2017.
Braden had two plea agreement hearings scheduled in Anderson County Circuit Court in Clinton last month, one on Friday, March 1, and the other on Friday, March 29. But no agreement was announced during either hearing. The date was rescheduled during the March 1 hearing, and on Friday, defense attorney David Stuart said the defense and the state wouldn’t be able to reach an agreement.
At the start of Friday’s hearing, Stuart said an issue had come up. Braden had requested copies of the discovery, potential evidence that could be used at trial, so copies were made and delivered to the jail, Stuart said. But they went to the wrong Jason Braden, and Jason Robert Braden thinks that’s an ethics breach, Stuart said.
Stuart said he would have to self-report the breach if he thought he had done something wrong. Other legal officials, such as the judge and district attorney general, would also have to report him if they thought he had done something wrong, Stuart said.
But it didn’t seem that anyone immediately thought Stuart had done anything wrong, and the evidence might be considered public record, at least eventually, according to the discussion during the hearing. Anderson County Circuit Court Judge Don Elledge said these types of mix-ups can happen, and in any case, this one appeared to be the jail’s fault, rather than Stuart’s.
After that discussion, Stuart demanded a speedy trial on behalf of Braden.
The request was granted, and a trial was scheduled for April 24 and April 25.
Braden has until 8:30 a.m. April 12 to reach an agreement with the state.
Oak Ridge Today reported in March 2018 that Braden had been charged in an 11-count indictment that included vehicular homicide by intoxication. The other charges against Braden included vehicular homicide by recklessness, four counts of reckless aggravated assault, reckless endangerment when a deadly weapon (a motor vehicle) is involved, driving under the influence, driving without a license, speeding, and violation of the child restraint law.
The homicide and assault charges are felonies, while the driving offenses are misdemeanors.
Besides killing Jason Robert Braden III, the three-year-old, the two-vehicle crash injured several other people. It involved a total of 11 people, including three juveniles, and it was considered a mass casualty event. It was reported at about 5:20 p.m. Friday, January 13, 2017, at the intersection of Emory Valley Road and Lafayette Drive.
A second person, Ashley Marie Ann Braden, 24, was indicted in the case on a single felony count of criminally negligent homicide by the Anderson County Grand Jury in Clinton on December 4. The indictment alleged that she engaged in criminally negligent conduct that resulted in the death of Jason Robert Braden III. The indictment did not elaborate on the alleged facts of the case, which is typical for indictments.
The obituary for Jason Robert Braden III named Jason and Ashley Braden as his parents.
Jason Robert Braden II was reported to be driving a sport utility vehicle involved in the crash, and Ashley Marie Ann Braden was identified as a passenger.
At the time, the City of Oak Ridge said the crash injured five other people who were in the SUV. The five additional injured people included four adults, all in their 20s, and one other child. The injured were taken by ambulance to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, a Level I trauma center.
Jason Robert Braden III died at the UT Medical Center from injuries sustained in the crash, according to his obituary.
The SUV ended up near a stoplight pole on the northeast corner of the intersection of Emory Valley Road and Lafayette Drive. The vehicle was heavily damaged, especially on its front end.
The two homicide charges against Jason Robert Braden II and the one against Ashley Marie Ann Braden are because of the death of Jason Robert Braden III.
The reckless aggravated assault charges against Jason Robert Braden II were brought on behalf of four people who were in the SUV and were injured in the crash: Ashley Marie Ann Braden, Dustin Sheehy, Joshua Selvidge, and Jason Robert Braden III.
The charge of reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon (a motor vehicle) was brought on behalf of Justyn Braden, the other young child, who was placed in “imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury,” according to Jason Robert Braden’s indictment last year.
The indictment said Jason Robert Braden II was under the influence of an intoxicant, although it didn’t specify what kind, and he did not have a driver’s license. He was operating the SUV without making sure the two children inside, Jason Robert Braden III, 3, and Justyn Braden, less than one year old at the time, were protected by a seat belt or other passenger restraint system, according to the indictment.
The indictment said Jason Robert Braden II was driving at more than 60 miles per hour in an area where the speed limit is 45 miles per hour.
The second vehicle involved in the crash, a Volkwagen sedan, was occupied by five people (four adults and one juvenile). None of those occupants were injured, the City of Oak Ridge said in January 2017.
Jason Robert Braden II is currently being held without bond in the Anderson County Detention Facility in Clinton. His bond was revoked, retroactive to August 1, in an interim order signed by Elledge on February 11. A motion filed earlier, on November 19, by Seventh Judicial District Assistant District Attorney General Melissa Denny gave seven reasons why Braden’s bond ought to be revoked. Among them: Braden was arrested in Oak Ridge in March 2018 for driving on a suspended license, and he was cited in Anderson County in July for driving on a suspended license, not having insurance, speeding, and a registration violation. Also, a bail bond company had asked to be relieved of its obligations on bonds in three of Braden’s cases, and it had been alleged that Braden had not worked at a lawful occupation while on probation, failed to report in July, failed to report an address change, and failed to appear for a drug screen, Denny said.
Braden was booked into the Anderson County jail in August for a probation violation and failure to appear, and he has remained jailed since then, according to jail records.
The next court date for Ashley Braden is scheduled for April 29.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
See previous story here.
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