Did Ackley understand his rights?
By Jane Beathard
The attorney for a London man held responsible for a truck-motorcycle crash that killed a West Jefferson couple last spring was in court Monday, attempting to throw out statements his client made to troopers after the accident.
Timothy S. Ackley, 32, 1090 Oxley Drive, is charged with two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, stemming from an April crash on state Route 142 in which Mark and Jo Ann Williams were killed. Ackley was allegedly driving drunk when his pick-up veered across the center line and into the path of the Williams’ motorcycle near the Gregg Road intersection.
Joe Edwards, Ackley’s court-appointed attorney, filed a motion in July asking Madison County Common Pleas Judge Robert D. Nichols to suppress comments Ackley made to troopers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol following the accident and during a subsequent ride to Tri-County Regional Jail.
Assistant county prosecutor Eamon Costello said those statements, which were racially charged and unsympathetic to the victims, are important because they showed the extent of Ackley’s drunkenness.
Edwards did not deny his client made the statements, but argued Ackley didn’t fully understand or knowingly waive his right against self-incrimination before he uttered the inflammatory words. Edwards also argued Ackley made off-hand incriminating comments about the accident to Trooper Shane Meddock with no defense lawyer present.
Meddock was Costello’s only witness on Monday.
The trooper testified that he arrived at the chaotic accident scene just after 3 p.m. on April 7 and found the Williamses dead beneath Ackley’s truck, while a belligerent Ackley sat in the rear of a squad unit.
When Ackley refused treatment for a slight head injury, Meddock transferred the man to the cruiser of patrol Sgt. Todd Scales. A video recording from Scales’ cruiser showed Meddock reading a “Miranda” warning to Ackley. However, Meddock acknowledged on Monday that he wasn’t sure Ackley understood the warning. Trooper Brian Satchell told Meddock further warnings were unnecessary.
Ackley refused to sign a formal waiver of his rights, but did agree to undergo a field sobriety test. He subsequently failed that test.
Meddock also testified Ackley recounted grim and graphic details about his actions in the moments following the crash. Those details included shaking the lifeless body of Mark Williams to determine the man’s condition, as well as taking note of Jo Ann Williams’ breast size as her body lay under the truck.
At the patrol’s West Jefferson Post, Ackley continued confrontational behavior and refused to provide a urine sample for analysis. He alleged membership in the Ku Klux Klan and told Scales, who is African-American, that he would dispatch other KKK members to “take care of business.”
Throughout, Ackley insisted he was not at fault for the wreck and that the Williams motorcycle veered into his lane, causing the double fatality, Meddock said.
Nichols is expected to rule within two weeks on Edwards’ motion to suppress Ackley’s statements.