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The trial of a local man charged with negligent homicide in connection with a fatal wreck last year that was set to begin Thursday was postponed after a mental evaluation was requested Monday to determine his fitness to proceed.

Austin Tilmon Meeks, 22, who could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted on the felony charge, made the request during a pretrial hearing before Garland County Circuit Court John Homer Wright, who granted the request and stayed any further court proceedings until the mental evaluation can be completed.

Meeks was arrested Sept. 20, 2016, after an Arkansas State Police investigation into the April 10, 2016, one-vehicle wreck on Highway 192 north of Mountain Pine in which a passenger in Meeks' vehicle, Dayton K. Garner, 22, was killed.

Meeks' attorney, Shane Ethridge, had filed a motion on Feb. 3, 2017, to suppress the results of a blood test that allegedly showed Meeks was legally intoxicated at the time of the wreck, but Wright denied the motion on Aug. 2 after a review.

According to the affidavit, shortly after 12:15 a.m. on April 10, Trooper Brandon Margis responded to the wreck, which involved a 2008 Chevrolet pickup reportedly westbound on Highway 192 when the driver, identified as Meeks, failed to negotiate a curve and left the roadway.

He lost control after overcorrecting, sending his vehicle across both lanes of traffic to the south side of the roadway. The vehicle collided into trees, ejecting both Meeks and his passenger, identified as Garner.

Garner was pronounced dead at the scene by Garland County Coroner Stuart Smedley. A fatality report noted there was light rain falling, and the roadway was wet.

Meeks was transported to CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs where Margis made contact with him, read him his rights and requested a blood sample. Meeks consented and a sample was taken at 3:10 a.m. and sent to the state crime lab in Little Rock for testing.

Margis later received the crime lab toxicology report, which reportedly showed Meeks' blood alcohol content to be 0.11 percent, over the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

On July 18, 2016, prosecutors filed a motion to obtain Meeks' medical records from St. Vincent. On July 29, ASP Special Agent Russ Rhodes received the medical records which showed Meeks' ethanol level was 0.017 percent, more than twice the legal limit. The medical records did not indicate what time his blood was collected for ethanol testing.

A warrant was issued for Meeks' arrest and he was taken into custody on Sept. 20 and later released on $2,500 bond.

Local on 08/30/2017

Print Headline: Mental evaluation postpones man's trial

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