Pepperdine Demands Change of Venue for McCulloch County Trial

 

A man accused of failure to render aid in accident involving death and tampering with physical evidence following a New Year’s Eve crash that claimed the life of 22-year-old Grape Creek native Jaclyn Proctor is seeking to have his trial moved out of McCulloch county, citing extensive media coverage and the fact that Proctor’s family have attending pre-trial hearings wearing shirts honoring her memory.

The motion for change of venue was filed on behalf of defendant Jason Allen Pepperdine by his San Angelo attorney, Stephanie Goodman, on Aug. 18.  Attached to that motion are eight signed affidavits written by residents of McCulloch County, who claim that extensive media coverage, “coffee shop talk” and overall community sentiment has already adjudged the defendant guilty.

“…Jason Pepperdine was a fairly well known individual in McCulloch County, specifically in Brady, Texas due to his residence in the county and his involvement in youth sports as a coach, referring [sic] sports and his participation in sports,” the motion states. “There had been several newspaper reports in the Brady Standard-Herald with his name referenced, his picture, and/or pictures of his family within the preceding year before Jason Pepperdine was arrested for these offenses.”

The offenses stem from a 911 call on New Year’s Eve, in which the caller reported to McCulloch County’s emergency dispatch that Pepperdine had been involved in a crash and was preparing to flee the scene. The 37-year-old was arrested that night at his residence for DWI, however his charge was changed to intoxication manslaughter as investigation into the crash continued.

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Above: Jason Pepperdine's Facebook post on New Year's Eve.

What had been reported as just a fatal crash in several news sources on Jan. 7 revealed a suspicion that alcohol was at play in headlines on Jan. 8. The story compounded a week later when additional charges were filed.

According to affidavits filed with the case, Texas DPS Sgt. Steve Jones and Texas Ranger Joel Timms conducted a jailhouse interview with Pepperdine in McCulloch County on Jan. 1, during which he confessed that there had been a passenger in the vehicle when he wrecked. That passenger was 22-year-old mother Jaclyn Proctor. She was not with Pepperdine when officers located him at his residence. She was instead later found dead on the side of the road.

“Pepperdine notes that Proctor was not ejected from the vehicle,” Timms wrote in the affidavit. “Pepperdine reports Proctor was bleeding from her neck area. Instead of providing or seeking medical treatment for Proctor, Pepperdine disposes of and conceals Proctor’s body and departs the crash scene.”

[[{"fid":"10104","view_mode":"preview","type":"media","attributes":{"alt":"Jason Pepperdine stands charged with intoxication manslaughter after a NYE fatality crash. (Contributed Photo/McCulloch County Jail)","title":"Jason Pepperdine stands charged with intoxication manslaughter after a NYE fatality crash. (Contributed Photo/McCulloch County Jail)","height":"2536","width":"3356","class":"media-element file-preview imgbody"}}]]
Above: Jason Pepperdine stands charged with intoxication manslaughter after a NYE fatality crash. (Contributed Photo/McCulloch County Jail)

As a result of the ongoing investigation, witness statements and Pepperdine’s own confession, two new felony charges were filed against him on Jan. 15, including failing to render aid in an accident involving death and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, both second-degree felonies.

The additional charges again made headlines, both in McCulloch County and in San Angelo. He was indicted on Feb. 17.

In his own attached affidavit, Pepperdine states that based on statements from other inmates in the jail, is that “the community of Brady Texas’s opinion of me [is] that I am already judged guilty.”

He also cites “difficulty I have experienced with law enforcement while being incarcerated” and “the fact that I have been force to wear a bullet-proof vest on occasions that I am not within the confines of the McCulloch County Jail…” as evidence of a “great prejudice” against him.

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Above: Jaclyn Proctor, 22, was killed in a car crash on New Year's Eve in McCulloch County. (Photo/Memorial Site)

Seven other McCulloch County residents submitted affidavits that were filed with the motion, echoing Goodman and Pepperdine’s concerns of extensive media coverage and community sentiment that has tainted the impartial jury pool.

The motion is set for hearing on Aug. 27 in McCulloch County. San Angelo LIVE! is subpoenaed to testify on news coverage and its audience reach at that hearing. Should the judge approve the motion, Goodman had requested it be moved to Burnet County.

The trial is set for the October 2015 docket. Tonya Ahlschwede, 452nd District Attorney, is prosecuting for the state. 

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