Special to the Review
The Athens Review
On Thursday, March 28, Jessica Dawn Hyde was sentenced for causing an automobile crash on a bridge portion of State Highway 198. This was after an all-day punishment hearing that lasted past 6:30 p.m.
Judge Dan Moore found Hyde guilty of the offense of Aggravated Assault Causing Serious Bodily Injury, and placed her on 10 years of probation for her actions back on Oct. 14, 2011. The 4-month pregnant mother of four children was taken into custody that evening to serve a 180-day jail sentence as a condition of her probation.
Henderson County Assistant District Attorneys Justin Weiner and Danny Cox presented evidence on behalf of Scott McKee’s District Attorney’s Office.
It was an emotional scene that evening as the courtroom was filled with Hyde’s family members, as well as her victim’s and their families. Hyde, on Feb. 6, 2013, plead no-contest to the charge, waived her right to a jury trial, and agreed to have the Court assess her punishment.
The State called four witnesses, the first of which was Joe Gomez, a State Trooper with the Texas Department of Public Safety. He testified that the accident reconstruction, contrary to the claims of Hyde, produced no evidence of Hyde losing control of her vehicle. The blackbox that was pulled from Hyde’s vehicle showed that three seconds before impact, she was traveling 78 m.p.h., with the throttle at 100-percent acceleration. This, of course, was while she was driving on a bridge in Gun Barrel City that had a speed limit of 45 m.p.h., was under construction, had one lane closed, and was a no-passing zone.
Gomez testified that Hyde’s vehicle, which contained her then-boyfriend, and three of her children, swerved intentionally into oncoming traffic, and struck another vehicle head-on. A witness told an emergency first-responder that Hyde was arguing with her boyfriend, and said she was going to kill everyone in the car, before jerking the steering wheel and causing the crash.
Randel Hyde, the woman’s former husband, and the father of two of the children in Hyde’s vehicle, spoke of the multiple admissions to Children’s Hospital for his son, who received multiple broken bones as a result of the crash. He testified that his other child still has emotional outbursts and nightmares since she was involved in the crash.
The car that Hyde struck was occupied by Corey Daugherty, his fiancé at the time, along with Beth Binkely and her youngest son. Binkely gave vivid details about the crash. She remembered the air conditioning unit and the stereo becoming dislodged after the impact, and hitting her in the face so hard that she could barely see.
She testified that she blacked out for a moments, and awoke to her son’s screams. She testified that her son received multiple broken bones in his arm, and will never be able to fully extend one of his arms as a result of his injuries.
Daugherty, the driver of the vehicle Hyde struck, gave chilling and gruesome details of his injuries. He was conscious and physically-stuck in the vehicle while emergency responders had to cut him out. This became very difficult as part of the metal door had become lodged into his leg. He was on life support for five days, and spent nine weeks in the hospital.
ADA Weiner introduced images of Corey’s legs, which have been the focus of 23 surgeries, with two more scheduled in the near future. Corey testified from a wheelchair, which is the only way he can move around today. The testimony, already emotional, took an even more tragic tone when he told the Court that there is not much of a chance that he will ever walk again.
Daugherty fought back tears as he told the court about owning his own company, being engaged, and loving to bass fish. Since the accident, he is unable to work, his engagement ended, and Daugherty has racked up medical bills in excess of $800,000.
Several of Hyde’s family members testified before Hyde ultimately took the stand. She stated that she was remorseful for what happened, and attempted to apologize to Daugherty, for the first time, from the witness stand. Hyde claimed that she blacked out, and didn’t remember anything before, during, or right after the crash.
After the hearing ADA Weiner stated: “Anyone could have been crossing the bridge, and been struck by Hyde that day. This is a difficult case, because regardless of the sentence, Daugherty may never walk again. I just hope that the hearing will bring Daugherty and the other victims the closure that they needed, so someday they can begin to try to put this behind them, though I can’t begin to comprehend how difficult that will be.”
An order for confinement was signed, and Hyde was remanded to the Henderson County Jail to serve out her 180-day sentence as a condition of probation.