Huntsville man charged with April vehicular homicide

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

By Karen Hall

Staff Writer

Two motorists from Huntsville, Ala., crashed head-on in Marshall County four months ago and the one who survived the encounter has now been indicted on a charge of vehicular homicide.

About 3 p.m. Sunday, April 29, Roger K. Utterback, 18, was driving north on U.S. Highway 431 (Fayetteville Highway) in a 2011 Ford Focus, according to the report by Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper James Crump. Near the intersection with Old Pylant Road, north of Petersburg, he allegedly veered across the southbound lane and onto the south shoulder, colliding with a 2001 Honda motorcycle XL8 ridden by Richard A. Martin, 45, also of Huntsville. Martin was killed, and Utterback was injured. Utterback was allegedly intoxicated at the time. He was also charged with unlawful possession of synthetic cannabinoids and drug paraphernalia, violation of the open container law, and tampering with evidence. Utterback was held without bond in Marshall County Jail from May 1 until Aug. 22. After a bond of $75,000 was set for him in Circuit Court that day, Utterback made bond and was released.

Fayetteville-based attorney Ray Fraley Jr. is his lawyer.

Also indicted by the grand jury at their August meeting was Curtis W. Warren, 27, of Nashville Highway, who was charged with one count of aggravated child abuse. The incident allegedly took place in June, and Warren admitted to law enforcement, "I grabbed him by the back of the neck to bend him over so I could spank his behind."

The four-year-old boy was taken to the emergency room by his mother, and the victim told the ER doctor, "Curtis tried to choke me. He grabbed my neck."

Warren has been jailed since his arrest in June, unable to make a $25,000 bond. In his statement to law enforcement, Warren appears puzzled by his arrest.

"This is one big misunderstanding," he wrote. "In no way, shape, or form did I do anything to (him) on purpose. I love those boys... I was just trying to be a good father figure for them."

Warren will be represented by the Public Defender's Office.

Also indicted were:

* Shane D. Sanford, 31, of Spring Place Road, was charged with aggravated burglary, four counts of aggravated assault, attempted aggravated robbery, and employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. On April 17, Sanford allegedly kicked in the door of an apartment at Maple Grove Apartments, and put three people in fear for their lives as he demanded prescription medication while brandishing a gun. He fled before the victims could give him any pills. Sanford has hired Fraley as his lawyer.

* Kevin Johnson, 30, of Clarksville, was charged with reckless endangerment, criminal impersonation, resisting arrest, evading arrest, and driving after being declared a Habitual Motor Vehicle Offender. In a separate case, Johnson was charged with burglary and theft. It is alleged he took two handguns and a Honda four-wheeler from R&R Automotive, Lewisburg, on March 19. Local attorney Debbie Zimmerle was appointed to represent Johnson. The Public Defender's Office cannot represent him because they have already been assigned the case of a co-defendant.

* Christy Hardin, 28, of Springfield, Tenn. was charged with theft over $1,000. On July 28, Hardin allegedly took $3,375,50-worth of items, including jewelry, perfume and makeup, from her boyfriend's mother after staying with her for a few days in Lewisburg. Hardin was caught near the victim's home with the stolen items in her possession, according to the report by Lewisburg Police Officer Jennifer McDonald. Hardin will be represented by the Public Defender's Office.

* Robert Earl "Gator" Grissom, 66, of Verona Road, was charged with one count of reckless endangerment. According to the report by Marshall County Sheriff's Deputy Lori Haynes, Grissom was allegedly firing a black-powder pistol at his neighbor while the man was fishing. Grissom will be represented by the Public Defender's Office.

Drug Task Force agents presented most of the grand jury cases in August, and were rewarded with indictments for seven individuals.

Indicted on charges relating to the sale of cocaine were Carneal O. Marks, 27, of Maple Street; Jeffery "Booky" or "Pooky" Mitchell, 21, of Woodlawn Avenue; Jamie A. Perryman, 21, of Belfast; and Emmett L. Roseman, 23, of 5th Avenue North.

Indicted on charges relating to the sale of marijuana were Katherine "Katie" Baker, 24, of Highway 64; Adrian S. Kinzer, 24, of Columbia; and Brian Jay Wilcox Jr., 31, of Highway 64.

Readers are reminded that indictment constitutes only charges and under the American system of justice, every person is presumed innocent until they plead guilty or their guilt has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.