Vehicular Homicide Case Reduced to Attempted Aggravated Assault

June 30, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Donald Ray Henson

A 52 year old man indicted for vehicular homicide pleaded guilty Thursday in DeKalb County Criminal Court to attempted aggravated assault.

Under a negotiated settlement, Donald Ray Henson received a two year sentence, suspended to time served. Henson, who was given jail credit for 267 days, will be on supervised probation

Henson was indicted for vehicular homicide, driving under the influence, and leaving the scene of an accident which resulted in the death of 44 year old Priscilla Judkins, The wreck occurred on September 15th, 2010.

As part of the plea deal, the vehicular homicide charge was reduced to attempted aggravated assault and the other two charges were dropped. Assistant District Attorney General Greg Strong informed Judge David Patterson that while Judkins had suffered head and internal injuries, the state could not advance the vehicular homicide charge against Henson, based on the findings of the medical examiner in the case. Strong did not elaborate further.

According to Smithville Police Officer Matt Farmer, Henson was traveling east on Broad Street in a Dodge Caravan when he rear-ended an eastbound 1994 Toyota pickup truck, driven by Randy Paris, who was stopped at the traffic light at the intersection of Broad and South Mountain Street.

Officer Farmer said after crashing into Paris' truck, Henson left the scene, still heading east on Broad Street. Paris received minor injuries in the collision but refused EMS transport to the hospital. His truck received considerable damage.

Sheriff Patrick Ray then had a close encounter with Henson. According to the sheriff, he was driving west on Broad Street near Bumper's Drive-In and had pulled into the turning lane to make a turn when he saw the eastbound Dodge Caravan, also in the turning lane, fast approaching him. Sheriff Ray said he quickly maneuvered into the westbound lane and the van went on by him, still heading east.

Sheriff Ray said he turned around to catch up with the van and saw it turn into the parking lot of Curve's on East Broad Street. When he pulled in behind the van at Curves', Sheriff Ray said the man behind the wheel was trying to drive the van up an embankment. The van rolled back and came to a stop in the parking lot.

Sheriff Ray said when the driver got out of the van, he also noticed a woman passenger who appeared to be seriously injured. He called for an ambulance.

Henson was placed in custody by Smithville Police at the scene and Judkins was taken by EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital. She was later airlifted by a helicopter ambulance and flown to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville where she died.

Henson, who was believed to have been intoxicated at the time of the crash, told police that his brakes "went out" and that his accelerator "hung". He also had in the van several cans of beer, three empty liquor bottles, and at least one bottle of Tequila which was half full.

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