Judge Denies Appeal Bond For Former EMT Whaley In Vehicular Homicide Case

  • Monday, April 15, 2024
Justin Whaley
Justin Whaley

Criminal Court Judge Boyd Patterson on Monday declined to allow a bond for former EMT Justin Whaley in the case in which he was convicted of vehicular homicide.

"I do find that an appellate bond is not appropriate in this case," the judge said in response to a motion filed by attorney Lee Davis.

Whaley was earlier sentenced to serve nine years in state prison for the wrong-way traffic death of James Brumlow on July 2, 2018.

Attorney Davis said he had learned that the state failed to turn over an Internal Affairs report about a key state witness in the recent vehicular homicide trial.

He said Whaley should get a new trial and bond.

Attorney Davis said on March 20, the DA's office disclosed that the "arresting officer and key state witness" Jeremy Wright "was subject to an internal affairs investigation in May of 2023 and found to be untruthful - just prior to the October trial."

It was claimed that Officer Wright showed an inappropriate nude photograph of himself to a woman and a juvenile at a Planet Fitness gym.

The state Court of Appeals had mandated a bond review considering:
1) risk of flight
2) danger to community.

Judge Patterson found that based on Whaley's assets in the millions of dollars and out-of-state contacts he met at his shooting range that his flight risk was worth considering.

He said Whaley's history in Missouri, California, and New York state is longer than in Hamilton County.

"If he were to decide to flee, he would have much more ability to do that," Judge Patterson said.

Attorney Davis said that the assets would keep him in Hamilton County. "He sees his future here," the attorney said.

Judge Patterson said he gives Whaley's flight risk more weight than his "future dangerousness."

He referenced a pre-sentencing investigative report by the Department of Corrections.

"There were some things that jumped out at me," Judge Paterson said. Whaley said he never read the report. Then Judge Patterson asked Whaley if he had made contacts or friends with employees of "government agencies" including FBI, TBI, CIA, State Department.

"Not off the top of my head," said Whaley. Judge Patterson then asked the lawyers to approach the bench for a private discussion.

Whaley was raised in Missouri and then lived in California and in New York.

Attorney Davis spent a lot of time establishing that Whaley had not missed a single court appearance, had spent honorable time in the Marines, and honorable time in service as an EMT, fulfilling all obligations in those areas. Also, he stressed his considerable assets, including his wife's career as a physician. He said he wants to return to all this when he has served his time. It was stated he lived in a multi-million-dollar home and Whaley said he's invested $2.4 to $3 million in his shooting range in Van Buren County.

Whaley's lawyer said that he did not attempt to flee in the five and a half years he was out on bond between his preliminary hearing in Soddy Daisy in 2018 and his trial in October 2023.

"This area is my home, sir. This is where my life is at," said Whaley, who moved to Hamilton County for his wife's medical residency in 2008. "I'm not fleeing that. Not for anything."

"My honor truly is the most important thing to me," Whaley said.

Attorney Davis said, "I don't think it's a close call. I think you could leave the door open for Mr. Whaley and he wouldn't walk out of it... He sees his future here."

Attorney Davis said that Whaley's passport was confiscated and his gun carry permit revoked by the state.

Assistant District Attorney Parker Garrett responded that "The calculus changes once convicted. You don't need a passport to flee this jurisdiction."

The prosecutor added. "He has the ability and he has the means. I can't stand here and say that he's a significant danger to the community, other than that he has killed one person."

Whaley has served six months since he was convicted in October 2023. His full sentence is another nine years.

"He has the right to an appeal," attorney Davis said. "His actions stop within the law."

The issue of a new trial will be heard on a date to be determined at the end of the month.

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