Guilty plea canceled in Clayton Qualls vehicular homicide case

mowen@ledger-enquirer.comDecember 6, 2013 

Northside High student Clayton Qualls, 17, is escorted into Recorder's Court for a preliminary hearing in 2012 on vehicular homicide charges stemming from the accident that killed fellow Northside High student Hannah Gilmer, 16. Qualls waived his hearing. Judge Michael Cielinski bound the case over to Muscogee County Superior Court.


A guilty plea hearing for a Columbus teenager charged with vehicular homicide was canceled today in Superior Court so the vehicle he was driving can be inspected, his attorney said.

Clayton Qualls, 16 at the time, was charged in the June 2012 death of 16-year-old Hannah Gilmer after the vehicle he was driving left County Line Road and rolled, ejecting the young woman, according to police reports.

A grand jury indicted Qualls on counts of first degree homicide by vehicle, driving under the influence, being a teenager driving under the influence and reckless driving.

He was on the guilty plea docket of Superior Court Judge William Rumer today, but after a brief statement from attorney John Martin, Rumer said the hearing would be rescheduled.

“We’ll see if we can get the vehicle inspected in the next two weeks,” Martin said. “We want to get the case back on track.”

Martin said a vehicle inspection in a case like this is a “normal event.”

Martin would not speculate on whether Qualls would plead guilty in the future.

“We have to see the results of the vehicle inspection,” he said. “We’re still moving forward with the case.”

Two other teens, Austin Lott and Daniel Highes Massengale, were charged with tampering with evidence because they allegedly helped Qualls hide beer that was in the car before police arrived at the accident site. Their cases are pending.

The fatal wreck occurred June 15, 2012, less than two weeks after Qualls had been arrested and charged with DUI and being a minor in possession of alcohol in Harris County. He was driving on a provisional license, pending a hearing in Harris County.

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