He Was The Driver
In Chuckey Pike
Wreck In Which
Mother Of 3 Died
BY KEN LITTLE
Kiley Ricker Shelton was laid to rest on Tuesday.
The night before Shelton's funeral, Marcus W. Strong was taken into custody and charged with driving under the influence-seventh offense and violation of the Habitual Motor Vehicle Offender Act.
Strong, 32, was behind the wheel of a car on July 19 that slammed into a utility pole on Chuckey Pike, also known as State Route 351. Shelton, 33, of Middle Creek Road, Afton, was a front-seat passenger.
The mother of three daughters died at the scene after being ejected from the car.
Prosecutors are looking at additional potential charges against Strong, including vehicular homicide.
"We are awaiting investigative reports and toxicology results. As related to this defendant, other charges are under consideration," Cecil Mills Jr., assistant district attorney general, said Tuesday.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol continues its investigation into the fatal crash.
Strong, of 2960 Chuckey Pike, Chuckey, was arraigned this morning in General Sessions Court and entered a not guilty plea.
The affidavits of complaint for Strong filed by Trooper Timothy Barnett said Strong "was traveling at a high rate of speed" in a 1989 Ford Mustang "and lost control and hit a utility pole."
Strong did not suffer serious injuries. While being taken to Johnson City Medical Center, he "had a strong odor of alcohol, and his eyes were bloodshot and he had slurred speech," the reports said.
Strong's driver license had been revoked for DUI, a records check showed.
His record shows two 2005 DUI convictions in Greene County, two 2003 DUI convictions in Washington County, and two DUI convictions in 2000 in Sevier County, according to one of the reports.
The pattern of DUI convictions resulted in Strong's designation on Jan. 6, 2006, as a Habitual Motor Vehicle Offender in Greene County Criminal Court.
The Habitual Motor Vehicle Offender designation meant that, under Tennessee law, Strong's driving privileges were automatically revoked for a minimum of three years.
But Strong was back on Greene County roads last week.
PAST LEGAL ISSUES
Strong's alcohol-related legal problems began years before the crash last Thursday that killed Kiley Shelton.
The Greeneville Sun files from as far back as 1997 show a recurring series of incidents that led to court appearances.
In October 1997, when he was 18, Strong was convicted in Greene County of consumption of alcohol while under the age of 21.
He was fined $100 and sentenced to 11 months and 29 days in jail, with the time suspended after payment of the fine and court costs.
Strong pleaded guilty to driving on a suspended license in 1999 and driving with a revoked license in 2001, 2003 and 2005. He served some jail time.
After being declared a Habitual Motor Vehicle Offender in January 2006, Strong was absent from local newspaper reports, until last Thursday.
DETAILS OF ACCIDENT
THP Trooper Barnett said in a preliminary report after the wreck that Strong was northbound in the Mustang on Chuckey Pike when it rounded a curve and ran off the right side of the road before overcorrecting.
The car went back across the road and off an embankment, where it struck the utility pole head-on. The pole was snapped into three pieces.
The car flipped several times, and Shelton was ejected, the report said.
The posted speed limit where the wreck occurred is 30 mph.
"We're familiar with Mr. Strong," Mills said.
"The state will move with all due deliberate speed" in prosecuting the case, he stated.
CONTINUING 'OLD WAYS'
C. Berkeley Bell, district attorney general for the 3rd Judicial District, which includes Greene County, was out of town Tuesday and didn't have available all the facts of the Strong case when reached by The Greeneville Sun.
But he spoke in general terms about the menace of repeat DUI offenders on Tennessee roads.
"It's a never-ending problem for us," Bell said.
"The police and our office do all we can utilizing the tools that the (state) legislature gives us to keep these individuals off the road. But once these individuals complete their time and get out of jail, they continue on in their old ways."
Bell said trouble starts with some DUI offenders once court-imposed oversight ends.
"They go back to doing what they did before. It's kind of like Russian roulette. We don't know when they will get drunk and kill someone," he said.