Driver Guilty of Murder in Deaths of 5 Cyclists

Charles Pickett had 'swallowed handful of drugs'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 2, 2018 12:27 AM CDT
Charles Pickett listens to the prosecutor during closing arguments in his murder trial, Tuesday, May 1, 2018, Kalamazoo, Mich.   (Rebekah Welch /Kalamazoo Gazette-MLive Media Group via AP)
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(Newser) – A reckless driver who was on drugs when his pickup truck crashed into a pack of bicyclists, killing five, was convicted of second-degree murder Tuesday in southwestern Michigan. Charles Pickett's trial lasted just a few days in Kalamazoo County. There was no dispute that he had swallowed painkillers and other drugs before driving, although his lawyers argued that murder charges were excessive, the AP reports. He now faces up to life in prison at his sentencing on June 11. Pickett's truck plowed into a pack of bicyclists on a rural road in Cooper Township, 140 miles west of Detroit, in June 2016. Nine people were hit, including five who died from their injuries. The dead were three women and two men, ages 42 to 74.

Assistant prosecutor Michael Kanaby told jurors that Pickett, 52, almost hit a pedestrian before hitting the cyclists. "He could have stopped there and said, 'Holy cow, I'm not fit to be on the road,'" Kanaby said. "But he didn't do that. He smashed into those people, destroying their bodies, their lives." Kanaby said a driver on drugs is no different than the "guy at the bar who's pounding down alcohol." A woman who was with Pickett earlier that day said he had attended a cousin's funeral and swallowed a handful of drugs. Pamela Barletta said she told Pickett: "'That's real smart, Charlie.' ... Before I could say anything else he just drove away."


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