Woman’s near-collapse halts plea in pedestrian death

Published 10:30 am Friday, July 18, 2014

A woman entering a guilty plea to leaving the scene of the 2013 death of a pedestrian nearly collapsed while answering the judge’s questions Thursday, leading the court to delay the proceedings.
Chyanne Elizabeth Gobble, 21, was indicted by a Carter County Grand Jury in May of this year on a charge of leaving the scene of an accident involving death.
The charge stems from an incident on the Elizabethton Highway in the area of Taylortown Road, in which police said the car she was driving struck a pedestrian and that she left the scene. The pedestrian, Christopher Dale Hughes, 39, later died as a result of his injuries.
On Thursday, Gobble appeared before Criminal Court Judge Robert Cupp to enter an open plea on the charge against her. Cupp called Gobble to the front of the courtroom and placed her under oath as part of the process for accepting the plea.
“You pled on what’s called an open plea, which allows this court to determine what, if any punishment, is handed down to you,” Cupp told her.
Cupp then reviewed Gobble’s rights – such as her right to a trial by jury and the right to call witnesses in her defense – and asked if she waived those rights to enter her guilty plea; Gobble said she did.
As part of the process of accepting her plea, Cupp asked Gobble several questions, including asking her to describe what happened on the night of the fatal accident.
“I was driving down Rio Vista hill. It was dark and rainy that night,” Gobble said. “I hit something so I got really scared and drove to my grandparents’ house.
“I told them what happened and we went back to where I hit and realized it was a person,” she continued. “I went back to my grandparents’ house and called the police.”
Cupp asked Gobble why she didn’t stop when she realized her vehicle had struck something.
“I didn’t know who or what it could be, and I got scared,” Gobble replied. “I was scared that I’d hit somebody.”
As Gobble answered questions from Cupp, she began to tremble and her voice cracked. She then began to sway and nearly collapsed in the courtroom, but was assisted to a chair by her attorneys.
Cupp remarked that Gobble had become very pale and asked her family to step forward to speak to her. He also directed bailiffs to contact the Carter County Detention Center and request that a member of the medical staff come to the courtroom.
Gobble was helped from the courtroom and into a conference room by her attorneys, and a short time later medical staff from the Detention Center arrived and entered the conference room.
Cupp resumed court and began hearing other cases. After a short period of time, he conferred with attorneys for Gobble and Assistant District Attorney Dennis Brooks in a bench conference, then addressed the open court.
“I have been informed by the jail nurse they want the defendant, Ms. Gobble, transported to the hospital to be checked out,” he said, adding he had allowed Gobble’s family to take her to the hospital. “I don’t want anything bad to happen to her.”
Cupp then rescheduled Gobble’s court appearance for July 21, at which time he said he will resume proceedings for her to enter her plea.

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