UPDATED: The upcoming trial of a truck driver charged with killing six people on Interstate 75 was postponed Friday after public defenders discovered a last-minute piece of evidence that could benefit their client.
Benjamin Brewer, 41, was scheduled to stand trial Monday in Hamilton County Criminal Court for crashing into stopped traffic on I-75 on June 25, 2015. He gave blood samples that night, which the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation tested on July 16, 2015, court records show.
The results were positive for methamphetamine in Brewer's blood, prosecutors say.
But public defenders didn't know until Wednesday the TBI had sent the sample to an Oklahoma facility that tests blood for the federal government, according to a motion filed Friday.
That's important because the second test contained "half of the amounts [of meth] reported by the TBI," the motion says. But the state had never provided results of the second test, which it was required to do, Deputy Public Defender Mike Little wrote.
"This exculpatory material, which has been withheld by the State, is not trivial," Little wrote. "It goes to the heart of the matter of whether or not the defendant was impaired."
Little asked the court for an appropriate remedy in his motion, which Criminal Court Judge Don Poole said would be a postponement.
Little said Friday his team was ready and didn't want this to happen. "But this lab test pops up and this is really the only remedy," Little said, "so we agree with Judge Poole."
The Hamilton County District Attorney's Office declined to comment Friday on the second test. Spokeswoman Melydia Clewell said attorneys will still go to court Monday, where Poole must decide what to do about the out-of-town jury selected earlier this week in Nashville.
Deputies were scheduled to pick up Nashville jurors Sunday evening, but they canceled those plans after Friday's news. It's unclear whether attorneys will have to pick a new jury or when the trial will be rescheduled.