Man charged in deaths of 5 Michigan bicyclists sent to trial

AP News
|
Posted: Nov 07, 2016 7:11 PM

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — A man who plowed into a group of bicyclists with his pickup truck, killing five, in southwestern Michigan was ordered to trial Monday on second-degree murder charges after police said he "seemed completely out of it" because of drug use.

The bicyclists were hit from behind on a rural road in Cooper Township, 45 miles south of Grand Rapids. Five were killed and four more were injured on June 7.

The first officer at the scene, Sgt. Darien Smith of the Kalamazoo Township police department, said Pickett had fled to the woods, about 75 yards away.

"He slurred and just seemed completely out of it in my contact with him. ... I believed he was under the influence of something," Smith testified.

Officer Cecil Queen said Pickett struggled to keep his balance and gave a "dead stare" when questioned.

Blood tests after the crash revealed drugs, including painkillers and methamphetamine, state police scientist Samantha Beauchamp testified.

Judge Vincent Westra ordered Pickett to trial on second-degree murder and other charges. Defense attorney Alan Koenig called the crash a tragedy and said Pickett didn't intend to hurt anyone.