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Trial of Hood in Weaver Road fatalities and Wells, in accident that killed Latonia youth, move forward

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By Mark Hansel
NKyTribune managing editor

Two separate automobile incidents in Northern Kentucky that resulted in fatalities and charges against the drivers, including one that took place almost three years ago, are winding their way through the courts.

Jessica Hood (dark hair) is shown leaving a pretrial conference last year. She is charged with three counts of Manslaughter-2nd Degree and two counts of Assault- 4th Degree, minor injury, in the deaths of two toddlers and their grandfather, and injuries to two others, in 2015 (file photo).

In March 2015, a car driven by Jessica Hood struck and killed two toddlers and their grandfather and injured two other people on Weaver Road in Boone County.

Hood is charged with three counts of Manslaughter-2nd Degree and two counts of Assault- 4th Degree, minor injury. She has pleaded not guilty.

Thursday, Hood was in court for what was expected to be the final pretrial conference before her trial begins on March 19. Her attorneys, however, say they have not been able to contact experts that will be needed to refute testimony of prosecution witnesses, so another conference has been scheduled for later this month.

On the day of the incident, investigators say Charles Napier and Susan Elam were pulling three small children in wagons on Weaver Road.

They were headed southbound in the northbound lane after returning from lunch at Gramma’s Pizza on US 42, when police say a Chevrolet Malibu driven by Hood, left the road, went onto the shoulder and struck the family.

Napier, 54, and his twin 13-month-old grandchildren, Samantha and Sean May, died from injuries sustained in the incident. Elam, the children’s aunt, and another grandchild, Ethan May, suffered non-life threatening injuries.

Prosecutors will argue that Hood was using her cell phone at the time of the crash and will use technology and expert testimony to support the assertion.

Daniel Dickerson, Hood’s attorney, said his client is adamant that she was not using her cell phone at the time of the incident.

If convicted on all counts, Hood could be sentenced to as few as five years, or up to 20 years, depending on whether she is sentenced to serve her terms consecutively, or concurrently.

If convicted and sentenced concurrently, she would serve all the sentences at the same time. If sentenced to serve the terms consecutively she would have to finish serving the sentence for one offense before serving the sentence for any other offense.

Under Kentucky law sentencing for Class C and D felonies cannot exceed 20 years, no matter how many counts there are.

Hood was offered a plea deal that would greatly reduce her potential incarceration time, but turned it down.

The pretrial conference is scheduled for January 24, with the trial still scheduled to begin with the seating of a jury, on March 19.

Boone Circuit Court Judge James R. Schrand will preside.

Wells pleads not guilty in accident that killed Latonia youth

Christopher Wayne Wells of Cincinnati is charged with leaving the scene of a fatal wreck, a Class D felony, in the death of six-year-old Eli Kindt of Latonia (photo by Mark Hansel).

Christopher Wayne Wells of Cincinnati pleaded not guilty in Kenton Circuit Court Wednesday to leaving the scene of a fatal wreck.

Wells was behind the wheel of a truck that struck and killed six-year-old Eli Kindt on East 32nd Street in Latonia on October 6.

A Kenton County Grand Jury indicted Wells in December on the Class D felony, which carries a sentence of 1 to 5 years in prison upon conviction.

There has been much conjecture about the circumstances surrounding the incident, after which Wells left the scene, but Kenton Commonwealth Attorney Rob Sanders said the charges are appropriate based on the evidence.

“I can say that if the accident reconstruction had revealed that Mr. Wells was responsible for causing the collision with the child and his bicycle there would most likely be some kind of homicide charge,” Sanders said following the indictment. “Not necessarily murder, but manslaughter second degree or reckless homicide would have been an option.”

It was initially reported that Wells left the scene because he was being threatened. There was also speculation that Wells contacted police after he left the scene, but Sanders said that a part of leaving the scene of an accident (charge) is not summoning emergency assistance.

“If we believed that Mr. Wells had called 911 or otherwise requested assistance for the child, we wouldn’t have presented the case to the grand jury,” Sanders said.

The Commonwealth Attorney’s office is still awaiting the result of a toxicology report on Wells and, depending on the results, could file additional charges.

Wells is scheduled for a pretrial conference before Kenton Circuit Judge Gregory Bartlett on February 5.

Contact Mark Hansel at mark.hansel@nkytrib.com

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