Updated 1/30/20 7:51 p.m.
CULLMAN, Ala. – A Cullman County jury convicted Bradford Neal Meeks, 29, of Bremen of criminally negligent homicide in the May 7, 2017 death of Curtis “Curt” James Wilson, 15, of Cullman. Meeks faced a charge of reckless murder, a Class A felony which could have carried up to a life sentence. Under the law, jurors can consider charges of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in cases in which reckless murder is charged.
Criminally negligent homicide is a Class A misdemeanor, except in cases involving alcohol or drugs. Since Meeks was also convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, the crime is classified as a Class C felony in this case and carries a sentence of from one year and one day up to 10 years.
Meeks was indicted in October 2017 on charges of reckless murder, DUI, DUI with blood alcohol concentration .08 or greater, unsafe lane change, driving on the wrong side of the road, possession of open container of alcoholic beverages in a motor vehicle and third-degree assault.
The open container charge was dismissed, and the prosecution elected to go forward with the DUI with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or greater charge over the DUI charge.
The charges stemmed from the May 7, 2017 vehicle crash that killed Cullman High School student Wilson and injured Wilson’s mother, Ashley Wilson. The fatal head-on collision occurred near 2045 County Road 222 in front of Van’s Sporting Goods.
Thursday, the third day of testimony, began with the State’s final witness, Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences (DFS) toxicologist Michael Weaver, who talked about Meeks’ blood alcohol concentration, which was measured at .263 in a serum test that would translate to a .224 in a common whole blood test.
On cross examination, defense attorney Johnny Berry noted that Weaver is a government employee testifying on behalf of government prosecutors. Weaver countered by stating that DFS is an independent agency, and that he testifies on behalf of the defense in 15% of cases. Berry got the toxicologist to agree that reports can sometimes contain errors, and that misdrawing or mishandling of blood samples can cause errors.
At 9:29 a.m., the prosecution rested.
After moving for an acquittal based on insufficient evidence during a brief recess, the defense presented a single witness, Stephanie Glasscock, who was driving in front of Meeks on County Road 222 at the time of the wreck. She testified that she did not notice anything unusual in Meeks’ driving before the accident.
On cross examination, Deputy District Attorney John Bryant pointed out that most of Glasscock’s view of Meeks was in her rearview mirror, and that she would not have watched him constantly while driving.
At 10:15 a.m., the defense rested.
In closing arguments, Bryant recounted witness testimonies and the chronology of events from just before the wreck until Curt Wilson was pronounced dead at Children’s of Alabama.
In his closing argument, Berry challenged the blood test results and asked jurors, “How much weight are y’all going to give them?” He argued that the State’s investigation was not thorough enough, that the people involved with the drawing and testing of Meeks’ blood could not recall details, and that two key prosecution witnesses were friends of the Wilson family.
Bryant returned to defend the blood tests and eyewitness accounts, telling jurors, “There are no inconsistencies here, folks; none.”
At 11:30 a.m., the jury was charged by Circuit Judge Gregory Nicholas with detailed explanations of the charges, including the options inherent in the reckless murder charge. Jurors ate lunch as they began their deliberations.
The jury returned at 4:03 p.m. with the guilty verdict for criminally negligent homicide, along with additional guilty verdicts against Meeks for third-degree assault for the injuries sustained by Ashley Wilson, improper lane usage and DUI with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or greater. He was found not guilty of reckless murder, manslaughter and driving on the wrong side of the road.
Nicholas announced that Meeks’ sentencing will take place in 30-45 days. Meeks was remanded to custody until that time.
In the immediate aftermath of the days’ experiences, The Tribune did not reach out to the families for comment.
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