HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A Hurley man has admitted to striking and killing a young woman with his vehicle after drinking excessively at a Mardi Gras parade in 2016.
Markey Johnny Tanner, 25, has admitted to striking 22-year old Megan Dekleinhans with his vehicle after a Mardi Gras parade in Biloxi two years ago. Tanner pleaded guilty to DUI Causing Death and Felony Leaving the Scene of an Accident in court on Thursday.
Dekleinhans was walking down Lamey Street just before 9 p.m. on Feb. 6, 2016 when she was struck by the vehicle Tanner was driving.
During his guilty plea, Tanner admitted that he had been drinking alcohol at the Biloxi parade that night and then had several drinks at bars after the parade. He told the judge that he thought he struck something with his vehicle on the way home but wasn't sure saying, "I thought it was a bottle or something."
However, witnesses in court disputed Tanner's statement. Some who were with Tanner at the parade told investigators that he had drunk four to five beers and had 10 to 15 tequila-filled Jello shots and then at least three more beers at bars afterward.
Tanner's ex-girlfriend, who was in the vehicle when he struck Dekleinhans, also testified in court that Tanner was driving his Mazda RX8 at a high rate of speed down Brodie Road. He then executed a "Tokyo drift-style" maneuver onto Lamey Street. Once northbound on Lamey, Tanner came within inches of striking the Dekleinhans boyfriend and the truck he was driving. Tanner then hit Deklienhans.
The passenger in Tanner's vehicle also testified that she saw the victim before the collision and that after hitting her, Tanner commented that the victim should not have been in the road. Deklienhans died later that night at the hospital.
"Witnesses say that after striking the victim, the defendant turned his lights off and fled the scene. The defendant was pulled over by officers with the Biloxi Police Department within minutes of the collision, who noticed the heavy damage to the front end of his vehicle, including a spider-webbing of the windshield and a side mirror missing from the vehicle," said Assistant District Attorney Ian Baker. "The victim suffered massive internal injuries as a result of the collision and was pronounced dead at Merit Health shortly after the collision."
Authorities said Tanner's blood alcohol level was 0.165% at the time of the collision, more than double the legal limit of 0.08%. The victim's DNA was also recovered from the front of Tanner's vehicle. Once that evidence had been presented to the court, Tanner then pleaded guilty.
The victim's parents, who were there for the hearing, also spoke in an emotional testimony, saying they were distraught over the death of their only child. They also expressed shock and dismay, saying Tanner was callous while admitting to hitting their daughter.
Tanner will be sentenced on March 20. Until then, he will remain out on bond to put his affairs in order before going to prison. However, the judge placed several restrictions on Tanner, including a curfew, drug testing, and travel restrictions. Tanner is facing between five to 45 years in prison.