Continuance granted in Vass trial

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A continuance was recently granted by the judge in the trial of a Lindale woman who was indicted on two counts of Intoxication Manslaughter after allegedly having a blood alcohol count over the legal limit when she struck and killed two drivers on Toll 49 in April 2017.

Judge Jack Skeen Jr. in the 241st District Court in Tyler granted a continuance in the trial of Jessica Lauren Vass, 35, of Lindale. With the continuance granted by the judge, the trial, which was previously scheduled to begin Monday, Jan. 22, will now begin on Monday, Feb. 26.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, DPS troopers responded to a three-vehicle accident on Loop 49, just north of Highway 64, at around 10:20 p.m. Wednesday, April 12.

The preliminary crash report reveals a car driven by Annette Burkhart, 56, of Garland, was stopped on the southbound side of the roadway with a flat tire. Assisting in changing the tire was Gary McCrary, 62, of Flint, who stopped his truck behind the car.

According to DPS, a car driven by Vass, was traveling southbound, and then struck the back of McCrary’s truck, then hit the Burkhart’s car, causing the vehicles to strike both Burkhart and McCrary. Vass’s then rolled over and came to rest in the middle of the Toll 49 roadway.

As a result of the wreck McCrary was pronounced dead at the scene, and his body was taken to Memorial Funeral Home in Tyler. Burkhart was taken to a Tyler hospital and was pronounced dead. Vass was also taken to a local hospital, where she was treated and released.

Recently in a TxDOT’s certified crash report obtained by Bullard Banner News, the wreck was blamed on the influence of alcohol, as Vass’s blood alcohol level was 0.148, nearly twice the legal limit, found by using a blood test after the wreck.

The TxDOT report also indicated that the inability to control speed was also a contributing factor to the wreck, with Vass’s vehicle traveling at 75 miles per hour.

After turning herself over to authorities on Tuesday, June 6, Vass was booked into the Smith County Jail and was charged with two counts of Intoxication Manslaughter with a Vehicle. Vass was released from the jail on the same day, with bonds for both charges totaling $100,000.

Vass was indicted by a Smith County grand jury on the two counts of Intoxication Manslaughter on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017.

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