Jury can hear Ackley’s accident remarks
By Jane Beathard
It will be up to a jury to decide whether or not vulgar and racially insensitive comments made by London resident Timothy S. Ackley at the scene of an April accident indicated his level of drunkenness.
On Tuesday, Madison County Common Pleas Judge Robert D. Nichols overruled a motion by Ackley’s defense attorney Joe Edwards to exclude at trial the off-hand comments the man made at the accident scene and during a subsequent ride to Tri-County Regional Jail. A trial is set for Oct. 23.
Ackley, 32, is charged with two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide in the deaths of West Jefferson residents Mark and Jo Ann Williams. Ackley was allegedly driving drunk in the westbound lane of state Route 142 on April 7 when his pick-up veered across the center line and into the path of the Williams’ eastbound motorcycle. Ackley denies the charge, saying the motorcycle veered into his lane.
Edwards filed a motion in August to keep a jury from hearing vulgar, insensitive remarks about the victims, as well as racial slurs that Ackley reportedly made to Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers in the hours after the wreck. Edwards argued the comments should be thrown out since troopers failed to properly inform Ackley of his Constitutional rights to silence and legal counsel — otherwise known as his “Miranda” rights. Edwards fears the “random thoughts” uttered by Ackley may shock jurors and prevent the man from receiving a fair trial.
At a Sept. 4 hearing, Trooper Shane Meddock testified that he read a “Miranda” statement to Ackley at the accident scene, but was not sure the man understood. Meddock attempted to re-read the statement, but another trooper intervened, saying a repeat was unnecessary. Meddock said Ackley appeared drunk and later failed a field sobriety test.
Assistant county prosecutor Eamon Costello countered, saying Ackley’s off-hand slurs were indications of the man’s intoxication level.
Nichols ruled it will be up to jurors to decide if Ackley’s remarks indicated a high level of drunkenness.
“Determination of how the defendant was impaired by alcohol is to be made by a jury,” Nichols wrote.
Ackley refused to provide a urine sample following the accident, based on his previous experience.
“This is not my first rodeo,” he told troopers.
That statement weakened Edwards’ argument that troopers failed to properly inform Ackley of his Constitutional rights, Nichols ruled.
“He (Ackley) was saying he had prior arrests, had been Mirandized before and understood those rights and their consequences,” the judge wrote.
It remains in question if a jury will hear the case on Oct. 23. On Tuesday, Ackley asked Nichols to replace Edwards as his court-appointed attorney. A hearing on the request is set for 1 p.m. Thursday.