County man arrested after police pursuit ends in crash

Published 9:30 am Friday, November 3, 2017

A Carter County man accused of absconding from court proceedings against him in a kidnapping case is back in custody and faces new charges following a police pursuit that ended in a motor vehicle crash on Halloween night.

Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper J.D. Gregory arrested Eric Matthew Miller, 38, of Elizabethton, and charged him with second offense driving under the influence, felony evading arrest while operating a motor vehicle, driving on a revoked license, reckless driving, violation of the seatbelt law, failure to obey a traffic control device, violation of the financial responsibility law, and failure to drive in lane of travel. Officers also served Miller with three outstanding warrants charging him with failure to appear.

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According to court documents, around 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday night, Gregory was traveling on State Route 362 (Mary Patton Highway) when he saw a pickup truck headed toward him. “The vehicle had crossed the center line into my lane of travel,” Gregory said. “I watched the vehicle jerk back into its lane and onto the shoulder. After the vehicle passed I observed it cross both the center line and fog line again.”

Gregory said he turned his vehicle around and continued to observe the truck, which he said continued to weave and jerk on the roadway. After observing the vehicle for about a mile, Gregory said he turned on his blue lights and tried to conduct a traffic stop in the area of Jim Elliot Road.

“When the truck turned onto Jim Elliot the vehicle accelerated rapidly in attempts to evade stop,” Gregory said. “I then activated my siren and pursued the vehicle down Jim Elliot to Gap Creek Road where the driver ran the stop sign turning right onto Gap Creek Road.”

According to Gregory, the truck turned onto Marion Branch Road then Bear Hollow Road. While he pursued the vehicle, Gregory said the driver committed several traffic violations, including driving recklessly, speeding, crossing the center line to cut corners, running off the road, and traveling on the wrong side of the road topping blind hills.

“The vehicle traveled on Bear Hollow for a short distance when the driver lost control and flipped the vehicle into a fence,” Gregory said.

Gregory said he was then able to make contact with the driver, who he identified as Eric Miller. According to Gregory, Miller told the Trooper he did not have a license and there were active warrants for his arrest.

“While speaking with Mr. Miller I observed slurred mumbling speech and glassy eyes with constricted pupils,” Gregory said.

Due to Miller’s condition and injuries suffered in the crash, Gregory said he was not able to have Miller perform field sobriety tests. Emergency medical personnel transported Miller to a local hospital for evaluation and Gregory said while at the hospital Miller consented to a blood test to determine if any alcohol or drugs were present in his system.

After being treated and cleared from the hospital, Miller was transported to the Carter County Detention Center, where he is currently being held without bond.

Miller had been scheduled to stand trial next week on charges of two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, three counts of aggravated assault, and two counts of violation of an order of protection.

A motions hearing in the case was scheduled for Oct. 23, but Miller failed to appear in court that day.

“Mr. Miller, I guess, is on the lam,” Miller’s attorney Patrick Denton told the court on Oct. 23.

Denton informed the court he had learned some information that could change how he and his client approach the pending court cases.

“The state has indicated they are going to indict him for coercion of a witness,” Denton said.

Assistant District Attorney Matt Roark informed the court the State also plans to indict Miller for failing to appear in court.

Miller had been scheduled to stand trial on Nov. 8 on the kidnapping case. Both Denton and Roark asked the court to reschedule that trial in light of the potential new indictment on the coercion of a witness allegation as well as Miller’s failure to appear in court or to meet with his attorney.

Criminal Court Judge Lisa Rice granted the request to cancel the scheduled trial. She also ordered the issuance of a capias for the arrest of Miller and directed that he be held without bond until he appears in court. She said she would revisit the trial schedule once Miller is in custody.

Miller is now scheduled to appear in Carter County Criminal Court on December 4.