Judge Steps Aside From Case In Which Woman Who Pled Guilty In Traffic Death Of Teacher Asks To Get Out Of Serving 90-Day Term

Thursday, February 13, 2020 - by Joseph Dycus

The judge in the case in which a woman who ran a red light and killed a Normal Park schoolteacher is appealing her workhouse sentence has recused himself.

Defense attorney Jonathan Turner said he did not know why Judge Don Poole decided to step away from the case.

The judge on Tuesday morning had heard an appeal from Neshala Massengale, who ran a light at the intersection of Brainerd and Elmwood Road in January 2019, crashing into Bethany Schklar’s vehicle. Ms. Schklar sustained a serious head injury and died a few days later.

Ms. Massengale pled guilty to speeding and driving without insurance in General Sessions Court in August and was sentenced to 90 days in the workhouse, followed by nine more months of house arrest and community service days. She avoided vehicular homicide charges despite going around 50 miles per hour in a 35-mile-per-hour zone.

Investigators pointed out that the sun made it difficult to see what color the light was, and her defense attorney said she was on her way to work. Ms. Massengale was only appealing the 90-day active time sentence, citing how crippling it would be when it came to her ability to provide for her children as a single mother.

“If I go to jail, I do not have any way of supporting my kids, and I will lose my house that I’ve been in for over six years, I will lose the career that allows me to take care of my kids,” said Ms. Massengale. “I do not receive any governmental assistance or aid, which I am very proud of. And again, I want to offer my sincerest condolences to Ms. Bethany’s family. I would do anything to bring her back, but unfortunately that I cannot. I just ask the judge to see that I am not a horrible person.”

Ms. Schklar’s mother was unimpressed with Ms. Massengale’s apology. She alluded to a social media post, where the defendant allegedly made remarks about “getting her curves back” a few weeks after the crash. She said Ms. Massengale did not seem to be apologetic or remorseful on the post. She pleaded with the judge to impose the maximum punishment.

“I recognize the sentence you impose will not bring Bethany back to us, nor will it alleviate the financial stress Josh faces every day,” said the mother of the Teacher of the Year. “ I simply ask for you to consider the value of my daughter’s life to her husband, her son, her friends, her students, to her family and to me as her mother. Alongside the defendants willful and heedless actions as she made her decision.”

“In this horrific year, only one person has dared to say to me that “Everything happens for a reason,” and the reason here is very simple,” said her mother. “Ms. Massengale has admitted she willfully chose to drive that day, even though she was prohibited by law from doing so because she lacked proof of financial responsibility.”

The officer who responded to the crash said that Ms. Massengale was remorseful every time he spoke to her after the crash, and the probation officer told Judge Don Poole that she had been in perfect compliance with her house arrest rules.

After listening to the testimony from various sources, Judge Poole had decided he needed a few days to think about how he should rule. There were questions about case law and whether or not he was imposing a new sentence, or just reinforcing an already-established one.

“I’m not going to make a decision today,” said the judge on Tuesday. “I’m going to review everything that’s been presented today, and, quite frankly, I would like to look at some law as well in regard to this. I would like to, if it’s not a complete inconvenience to either side, come back on Thursday morning.”     


County School Board Members Say Unexpected Higher Price To Put CSLA At Northgate Mall Puts Damper On Project

Hammond Says Several Suspects Under Investigation In Incident In Which Flag At Jail Was Taken, Burned

Those In Easter Night Tornado Area To Get Extra Time To Submit State Taxes


County School Board members said an unexpected price jump from developers for the Sears portion of Northgate Mall as a school site put a damper on the "out of the box" idea. At a facilities ... (click for more)

Sheriff Jim Hammond said "several suspects" are under investigation in an incident in which a Sheriff's flag was taken down at the County Jail on Walnut Street and later burned at Miller Park. ... (click for more)

State officials said those in the areas struck by the tornadoes on Easter night in Hamilton and Bradley County will have extra time to submit their taxes. Officials said: Federally Declared ... (click for more)



Breaking News

County School Board Members Say Unexpected Higher Price To Put CSLA At Northgate Mall Puts Damper On Project

County School Board members said an unexpected price jump from developers for the Sears portion of Northgate Mall as a school site put a damper on the "out of the box" idea. At a facilities committee meeting on Saturday, board members were told developers Bassam Issa and John Woods said they had paid $3.5 million for the Sears section, but that other expenses had moved the overall ... (click for more)

Hammond Says Several Suspects Under Investigation In Incident In Which Flag At Jail Was Taken, Burned

Sheriff Jim Hammond said "several suspects" are under investigation in an incident in which a Sheriff's flag was taken down at the County Jail on Walnut Street and later burned at Miller Park. He said, "The incident started at the jail and continued on to Miller Park. Rather than involve two agencies, the Sheriff's Office will take the lead on it." The sheriff said city police ... (click for more)

Opinion

Are Theft, Vandalism And Arson Now Acceptable Behavior In Chattanooga?

There are a lot of things I don’t agree with in this world and I will openly speak out about it in a civilized tone and manner. I definitely don’t go around stealing, vandalizing and burnIng those items that frustrate or anger me as that would be counterproductive to a civilized society. Watching the news this morning I saw a couple of individuals committing theft, vandalism, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

Some time ago The Saturday Funnies started a “CLICK HERE” section at the end of the weekly jokes and stories. With today’s magnificent media, they are easily available and now I find a good half of the “Funnies” that arrive in our emails are videos. This week I received one video that I believe should be shared with everyone in times such as this. Because I am so gleeful over ... (click for more)

Sports

Tee Times Announced For 2020 CWGA City Women's Amateur Golf Championship

The 2020 City Women's Amateur Golf Championship will be held on Tuesday at Black Creek Country Club. Listed below are the first round tee times. Hole 1 Name H.I. C.H. TEE 8:00 AM Ryon, Carlene 7.4 6 White-CWGA ... (click for more)

Top Announcer John Freeman To Make The Call When CFC Once Again Takes The Field On Saturday

For John Freeman, working CFC’s Saturday match against the Georgia Revolution is something of a thank you letter to the Chattanooga Football Club. As a TV broadcaster for Nashville SC, he believes his job would not have existed without CFC's success. “What excites me most about being part of a CFC broadcast and why I was so excited to say yes, was that Chattanooga was one ... (click for more)