State rests its case in fatal hit and run trial in Dayton, Tenn.

State rests its case in fatal hit and run trial in Dayton, Tenn.

Jurors see video evidence in case against Douglas Alvey

April 18th, 2018 by Ben Benton in Breaking News

Douglas Alvey, right, watches as his attorneys, Clancy Covert, seated, and Lee Ortwein review notes during a break in the trial on Wednesday in Rhea County Circuit Criminal Court.

Photo by Ben Benton /Times Free Press.

This story was updated April 18, 2018, at 11:59 p.m. with more information.

DAYTON, Tenn. — Walter Hale's last lunch sat half-eaten in his gold Honda Accord as he fought for his life at a Knoxville hospital on Sept. 6, 2016, following the hit-and-run behind We Care Thrift Center, where he worked.

Hale, 60, died four days later.

Late Wednesday, the state rested its case in the trial of Douglas Edward Alvey. He is charged with first-degree murder in Hale's death.

The victim's nephew, Mike Hale, testified under direct examination by 12th Judicial District Attorney General Mike Taylor that he found his uncle's half-eaten lunch the day Walter Hale was injured.

Douglas Alvey watches as his attorneys review notes during a break in the trial on Wednesday in Rhea County Circuit Criminal Court.

Douglas Alvey watches as his attorneys review notes...

Photo by Ben Benton /Times Free Press.

Mike Hale was among more than a dozen state witnesses called on Wednesday as the trial got underway in Rhea County Criminal Court before Judge Justin Angel.

Two We Care Thrift Center employees started the trial with testimony about having worked with Hale, his work routines and how he took his lunch breaks in his car in the back of the parking lot.

Alvey could be seen on store surveillance video walking around the store's furniture department the day the deadly incident happened.

Alvey bought nothing and then left the store to get into his white Ford Ranger pickup truck. Video from two different angles showed the pickup truck drive around to the back of the building, where donations can be left on a loading dock.

In one view, Alvey throws something out of the back of his truck into the parking lot near the dock, then he jumps back into the vehicle. In another angle, Hale can be seen getting out of his car and walking toward the truck with a hand up in an apparent attempt to stop Alvey.

This was what caught the attention of witness David West, who was eating lunch with his family at the Krystal restaurant just across the street, according to his testimony.

"Looked to me as if he hit the man, sped up and took a hard left," West testified. West estimated the truck was going 20 to 25 mph and was accelerating after Hale was struck.

West told his wife to call 911 and he headed outside to try to help the injured man who "was laying on his right side with blood coming out of his nose and mouth," West recalled in his testimony. He said Hale couldn't speak and only moaned.

In his opening statements Wednesday morning, Alvey's attorney Clancy Covert told jurors it was possible Alvey saw Hale walking toward him while yelling and pointing at him aggressively and felt threatened. Covert, who is teamed with defense lawyer Lee Ortwein, suggested that Alvey was terrified and panicked and just wanted to leave.

Taylor told jurors that once Alvey struck Hale, he fled the scene, accelerating and slinging Hale off the hood of his truck.

Taylor, who is prosecuting the case along with Assistant District Attorney David Shinn, told jurors that Alvey fled west into Bledsoe County, the opposite direction of the camper he was living in off of Highway 58. Alvey's abandoned truck was later recovered from the parking lot of the Lowe's store on Gunbarrel Road in Chattanooga, Taylor told jurors.

As the state's case presentation moved toward Alvey's arrest, Alvey's brother-in-law, Roger England, testified that Alvey had come to his home several days after the incident and that when he told Alvey that Hale had died of his injuries, England said Alvey became upset and cried. England contacted authorities and relayed what he learned about the truck's whereabouts.

Dayton police Lt. Jeff Hill testified about talking to England and the recovery of the suspect's truck from a Chattanooga Lowe's parking lot. Hill said he found the truck early the next morning at the Lowe's on Gunbarrel Road.

Other witnesses called by the state included Dr. Amy Hawes, a forensic pathologist who examined Hale's body after he died.

Hawes said Hale died of "multiple blunt force injuries."

However, Alvey's defense team seized on Hawes' described manner of death, which was changed from a classification as an "accidental" to "undetermined" death.

Covert and Ortwein told the judge they would begin calling witnesses Thursday morning and said the case could potentially go to the jury by lunchtime.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.


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