3 Doors Down bassist loses appeal of DUI conviction
D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - Todd Harrell's attempt to overturn a DUI conviction hit a sour note before a Harrison County judge Wednesday. The bassist for the band 3 Doors Down had been convicted after a July 2012 incident in which he slammed into a vehicle stopped at a stop sign on Lemoyne Boulevard in D'Iberville.
Witnesses testified Todd Harrell was traveling at a high speed and never hit his brakes before crashing into the pickup truck just before 7am.
Darryl Thibedeaux was the driver of that silver pickup.
"I was sitting at the stop sign and I looked in my rearview and I knew it was going to be a hard hit," Thibedeaux said. He hit me and spun me around sideways."
Lt. Paul Grote, who works for the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, witnessed the accident. He testified he saw a black Cadillac pass him at a high rate of speed. After the crash, Lt. Grote went first to Harrell's vehicle.
"I asked, 'Sir, are you okay?'" Lt. Grote recalled. "He gave me some kind of gargled response. I asked him if he was able to get out and he said, 'Yes.' I did not notice any odor of intoxicating liquor. I did notice he was very slowed and slurred in speech. He was not quick to respond."
A D'Iberville police officer also testified that at the accident scene Harrell had slurred speech. Officer Joey Fore said Harrell kept nodding off and at one point Harrell passed out in the back of the squad car.
"He kept swaying back and forth. His eyelids were half open, half closed," said Officer Fore.
During the trial, a toxicologist from the Mississippi Crime Lab presented evidence showing blood tests showed no alcohol in Harrell's system, but tests were positive for Valium, Xanex and Oxicodone.
Harrell's attorney Keith Miller and Adam Miller tried to get a county court judge to overturn the DUI first offense conviction. The defense put a neurologist on the stand who said Harrell's behavior that day may have come from a head injury from hitting his head on the windshield.
Dr. Terry Millette said, "His behavior is consistent with closed head injury. Closed head injury symptoms can mimic impairment. You can't make a distinction without a quantitative toxicology analysis."
The defense was able to get the crime lab expert to admit the bloods tests do not indicate how much of the substances was taken or at what time. However, in the end, the judge sided with the prosecution that Harrell was indeed under the influence and upheld the conviction.
"I believe he was clearly too impaired, too impaired to be driving. He was clearly reckless," said Judge Robin Midcalf.
Todd Harrell did not take the stand and his attorneys had no comment after the verdict. The judge sentenced Harrell to a $1,000 fine and two days in the Harrison County Jail. However, the jail time is suspended granted Harrell completes six months of good behavior along with other requirements.
Harrell faces a vehicular homicide charge in Nashville, Tennessee following an accident in which a man was killed last April.
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