“Tabitha Hawkins is one reason why the courts have youthful offender status,” Pell City defense attorney Stan Brown said. “She’s never been in trouble before.”
Hawkins, of Riverside, was arrested last month after a St. Clair County grand jury indicted her for the vehicular homicide of Karly Meeks, 17, of Riverside. Meeks, who attended Pell City High School, died from injuries suffered in an Aug. 11, 2010, single-car collision on Deer Race Road, about three miles north of Pell City.
“This was a tragic accident,” Brown said Thursday. “Unfortunately, it does fall under the guidelines of vehicular homicide.”
District Attorney Richard Minor said last month that a grand jury indicted Hawkins on one count of vehicular homicide, which according to the indictment is “unlawfully, unintentionally and negligently causing the death of another person.”
“She was indicted as an adult pursuant to Alabama law, which states that any juvenile that has attained the age of 16 shall be charged, arrested and tried as an adult for a list of set offenses, including any felonies which have an element of causing death or serious physical injury,” Minor said.
If convicted as an adult, Hawkins could face up to five years in prison, Minor said.
If Hawkins is granted youthful offender status, her case is not open to the public, Assistant District Attorney Lamar Williamson said Thursday.
If Hawkins is granted youthful offender status, she still could serve up to three years with the Alabama State Department of Corrections, he said.
As a youthful offender, the defendant waives the right to a jury trial, Williamson said.
If convicted as a youthful offender, the defendant does not have a felony record, he said.
Minor said in accordance with state law anyone under the age of 21, charged as an adult, has the right to apply for youthful offender status.
A youthful offender status hearing for Hawkins is tentatively set for Monday, May 9, before Circuit Court Judge Jim Hill.
According to earlier reports, Hawkins allegedly lost control of the 1999 Dodge Dakota she was driving.
Alabama State Troopers said the vehicle left Deer Trace Road and struck a tree. The accident happened at about 7:15 p.m. that Wednesday.
Meeks was transported by LifeSaver helicopter to University Hospital in Birmingham, but was pronounced dead the following morning.
Shortly after the fatal accident, Corporal Steve Smith, public information officer for the Alabama State Troopers Birmingham Post, said it appeared speed was the primary cause of the crash.