A Marion County judge this week sentenced 20-year-old Signal Mountain resident James T. Meeks III to a combined 27 years in prison in the deaths of three people and injuries to a fourth stemming from a June 2011 crash on Big Fork Road.
Meeks, accused of ramming the Jeep in which the four people were riding, pleaded guilty on Monday before Judge Thomas W. Graham to three counts of vehicular homicide by reckless conduct, all class C felonies, and a count of reckless aggravated assault, a class D felony, Marion County Circuit Court records state.
Meeks was arrested Aug. 1, 2011, in the deaths of Annie E. Blevins, 24, and Nicholas Scott Clayton, 20, and Emily F. Clayton, 21, authorities said during the initial investigation. Eric Blevins, 37, the driver of the victim vehicle, survived the crash. Meeks also was charged with reckless aggravated assault count in connection with Blevins’ injuries.
State Highway Patrol officers said at the time of the crash that three of the victims were found trapped underneath the Jeep.
Graham sentenced Meeks to 15 years in prison on each of the three homicide counts, all three sentences to run concurrently, and to 12 years on the reckless aggravated assault count, a sentence ordered to run consecutively to the others, for a total of 27 years in prison, records state. Other counts associated with the 2011 incident were dismissed as part of the agreement.
Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...