Crime

Attorney: Hit-and-run driver didn’t cause crash that killed woman on MLK Jr. Boulevard

Jovonne Williams charged in hit-and-run death of Kassandra Hollinhead

Jovonne Williams, 36, faces vehicular homicide and other related charges in the March 4, 2017 hit-and-run death of Kassandra "Kassie" Hollinhead, 35, on Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard. Williams is represented by defense attorney William Kendri
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Jovonne Williams, 36, faces vehicular homicide and other related charges in the March 4, 2017 hit-and-run death of Kassandra "Kassie" Hollinhead, 35, on Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard. Williams is represented by defense attorney William Kendri

Hit-and-run suspect Jovonne Williams didn’t cause the crash that killed Kassandra M. Hollinhead on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard late Saturday and commit homicide by vehicle, her attorney said Wednesday during a Recorder’s Court hearing.

Williams, 36, of Columbus pleaded not guilty to felony homicide by vehicle, hit-and-run, duty to report fatal injury accident, driving while license suspended or revoked and having no proof of insurance. Attorney William Kendrick, who represented Williams, argued over the homicide by vehicle charge but Judge Mary Buckner let the charge stand and bound all charges over to Superior Court on bonds totaling $16,550.

Kendrick said he doesn’t think all the facts are available in the crash. You can’t have a homicide by vehicle by leaving the scene, he said. “There is no homicide by vehicle in this case,” Kendrick said after the hearing. “The other charges may lie.”

Motor squad officer Ben Shuler told the court the crash occurred about 10:20 p.m. as Hollinhead walked south across Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard when she was struck by the front of an eastbound 1996 Chevrolet Lumina driven by Destinee Hampton near Murray Street. The pedestrian then was struck by a second westbound 1995 Ford Explorer driven by Williams.

Williams stopped briefly but left the crash scene. A witness gave police the tag number on the Ford which led to the suspect’s cousin’s house. The cousin recently sold the vehicle to Williams.

Shuler said police were able to get Williams on the speaker phone at the cousin’s house. Williams said the car struck the pedestrian and sent her into the air. “I ran them over,” Shuler said of the phone conversation with the cousin. “I was fixing to stop.”

Williams took off and police learned the vehicle was located on Fletcher Avenue. The tag was removed from the vehicle and there was evidence the vehicle had been scrubbed clean. Shuler said additional charges will include tampering with evidence.

Shuler said the driver of the Lumina wasn’t in violation of any offenses at the time of the crash.

Kendrick told Buckner that Williams committed no act to cause the death of the pedestrian. Williams did not cause the accident, the attorney said.

Williams wasn’t driving under the influence, driving recklessly, fleeing and eluding police or passing a bus in a school zone when the crash occurred. Those actions are stated in the law to charge a person with homicide by vehicle, he said.

“No one expects a person is going to fly through the air and land in front of their car,” Kendrick said. “That is what we are talking about.”

Shuler told the judge the homicide by vehicle charge was based on Williams leaving the scene of the crash. An error occurred in typing the correct code section on the arrest warrant.

Outside the courtroom, Kendrick said he wouldn’t comment on cleaning the vehicle after the crash and leaving the scene. “Homicide by vehicle requires that she caused the accident that caused the death,” he said. “And that statute on hit-and-run still requires approximate cause. We’ve got a toss up here.”

No autopsy results have been completed in the death of Hollinhead, 35, Shuler said.

Kendrick said he would be asking an impossible question in the crash.

“What happened from the initial impact and flying through the air and hitting the ground? Is this person alive at that point?”

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