For five days, Ben Brewer evaded authorities in two states after being indicted by a Hamilton County grand jury on 13 charges — including vehicular homicide and reckless aggravated assault.
But on Friday, his run ended in the parking lot of a Lexington, Ky., department store.
Preliminary NTSB report on fatal I-75 truck crashView
And now, the trucker accused of killing six people on Interstate 75 in Chattanooga also faces charges of criminal mischief and drug trafficking in Kentucky. He is being held at Fayette County Detention Center without bond.
On Monday, 39-year-old Brewer pleaded not guilty to criminal mischief and trafficking of a controlled substance at an arraignment hearing, after police said he was caught with narcotics and kicked a police cruiser window during his arrest.
Brewer neither accepted nor refused extradition to Tennessee on Monday. He is scheduled to reappear in Fayette County court on Aug. 19 at 8:30 a.m.
Speaking to Brewer's arrest, Sgt. Joe Anderson, duty commander with the Lexington Police Department, said a tipster spotted Brewer in the parking lot of Gordmans department store Friday evening and called the U.S. Marshals office. One day earlier, Brewer had been placed on the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's Top 10 Most Wanted list.
When U.S. Marshals and Lexington police arrived at the Gordmans store at 2321 Sir Barton Way in Lexington, they found Brewer and an unidentified female in a vehicle in the parking lot.
Authorities found narcotics on Brewer, Anderson said.
Anderson didn't say whether Brewer had drugs in his system at the time of the arrest, or whether the female with him was Charity Pennington, Brewer's fiancée, who was a passenger in Brewer's truck the night of the wreck in Chattanooga.
But both were arrested and taken into custody.
During the arrest, Brewer kicked one of the rear-door windows of a police cruiser from the inside until he successfully dislodged it, potentially damaging the window motor in the process.
Police popped the window back into place and Brewer landed himself an additional charge and a ride to jail in a more secure police patrol wagon.
He will remain jailed in Kentucky until Tennessee authorities can extradite him here, which could take weeks.
Gino Bennett, spokesman for the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, said Monday that Brewer can either agree or refuse to be extradited to Tennessee to face charges.
If Brewer agrees to his extradition, the fugitive division of the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office will drive to Kentucky, retrieve him and bring him back here.
If he refuses, the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office and the local district attorney will send a governor's warrant for him, said Bennett, which would result in a slightly longer wait.
There was no word of Brewer's intention as of Monday.
Brewer faces a total of 13 charges here after a Hamilton County grand jury on Aug. 3 indicted him on six counts of vehicular homicide, four counts of reckless aggravated assault, driving under the influence of narcotics, speeding and making false reports about his duty status (faking federally required driving logs). He's accused failing to stop his tractor-trailer, causing a wreck that killed six people on June 25.
Brewer had been on duty for about 50 consecutive hours in the three days leading up to the fatal crash, according to a preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Board. And he had driven for 15 consecutive hours before crashing in Chattanooga.
Allegations of Brewer's misconduct, drug use and driving history surfaced quickly after the June 25 crash, and both Brewer and Cool Runnings Express — the London, Ky.-based company he drove for — are facing two lawsuits seeking more than $22 million combined.
Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at sbrad email@example.com or 423-757-6525.
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