Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bond reduction denied Grand jury next for young driver charged with 2 deaths in Pine accident

A young Washington Parish man remained in the parish jail early this week after a motion to reduce his bond on double vehicular homicide charges was denied last week.
Jason Melerine, 19, is charged with two counts of vehicular homicide in connection with the deaths of two Washington Parish residents who were killed in a wreck on June 27 just north of Pine. He is also charged with 1st Offense DWI.

Last week, he appeared before Judge Raymond Childress at the Washington Parish Courthouse, seeking a reduction in his $203,000 bond so he could get out of jail while awaiting the next step in the legal process.
However, Judge Childress denied the motion; the bond was kept at $203,000, and Melerine was returned to the Washington Parish Jail.

Assistant District Attorney Lewis Murray III said Melerine’s case would be presented to the Washington Parish Grand Jury on August 11. Should he be indicted by the Grand Jury on the vehicular homicide charges, a trial date would be set in due course.

Melerine is charged with causing the deaths of Jason Crain, 23, and Beth Bria, 18, both of whom died in the crash on Highway 424 just north of Pine. The wreck occurred approximately 5 a.m. in the morning when Melerine’s pickup truck ran off the roadway at a high rate of speed and impacted trees. The bed of the pickup separated from the chassis upon impact and was found 57 feet away from the chassis.

Crain and Bria were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. Melerine suffered minor injuries. Crain and Bria were engaged to be married. Bria was a former Franklinton High School student who had more recently attended Varnado High School, but she was considering returning to FHS for the coming year, said FHS principal Lisa Tanner.

“I thought very highly of Beth,” said Mrs. Tanner. “I was very sorry to hear about the accident.”

State Trooper Dan Manning of Franklinton, who was the responding trooper, wrote in his report that he determined that Melerine was the driver of the truck and he determined that Melerine was impaired. He charged Melerine with two counts of vehicular homicide and one count of 1st Offense DWI.
Manning noted in his report that Melerine failed the field soberity test at the scene of the wreck, and shortly thereafter, Manning reported, Melerine’s breath alcohol content was measured at .101 at the Washington Parish Jail, which is considered legally intoxicated.

The investigation into the accident is now complete, according to state police, although a supplement to the report will be added when DNA tests on the driver’s side airbag are returned from the state crime lab in Baton Rouge. State police want the DNA test in order to conclusively show who the driver was at the time the air bag exploded, said a spokesman for State Police Troop L.