The Herald Bulletin

October 11, 2006

Men charged in hit-and-run

Lee Noble

Muncie police arrested a state corrections officer from Anderson on allegations he hit a woman with his car Sunday morning and fled the scene.

That impact, and a strike from another car, killed the woman and injured her boyfriend, according to the Delaware County Coroner and Muncie police.

Officers filed preliminary charges against Steven L. Brinkley, 22, Anderson, for leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, a Class C felony. If convicted, Brinkley could face up to eight years in prison.

Two vehicles hit Jamie J. Beaty, 22, Muncie, as she argued with her boyfriend while crossing Muncie’s Kilgore Avenue near Elm Ridge Cemetery. One auto dragged her body several feet down the road, according to investigators. Police also arrested Kevin D. Barton, 42, Springport, after witnesses reported they saw him involved in the incident, stop at the scene then flee.

The traffic police investigating did not return phone calls to clarify which vehicle first hit Beaty’s body and which one dragged it.

Preliminary charges filed against Barton include leaving the scene of a fatality and driving while intoxicated and causing a fatality, both Class C felonies. He and Brinkley are in the Delaware County jail. Bond was denied for both men.

Brinkley has been suspended with pending termination from a recently acquired position at an Indiana Department of Correction inmate processing facility in Plainfield, according to Java Ahmed, a spokeswoman for the DOC.

The results of the police investigation into possible wrongdoing will determine whether or not he is fired, she said.

The preliminary charges suggest police may suspect Barton’s car struck the woman first. Accident investigators found “tissue” on his bumper and inside his wheel well, according to the probable cause affidavit for his arrest.

However, Brinkley “admitted to being the driver which struck Beaty on Kilgore,” according to a police report about his arrest.

The Delaware County prosecutor’s office has until Monday to determine who did what and file formal charges. The prosecutor requested the extension Wednesday morning at an initial hearing for the accused pair, according to an officer in the Delaware County jail.

Brinkley made it home Sunday morning after the alleged hit-and-run. By Monday he found out it turned fatal and contacted Madison County sheriff’s deputy Sam Hanna, a family friend.

Hanna called Muncie’s investigators late Monday night and took them to meet Brinkley and examine his 2005 Nissan Altima, according to the probable cause affidavit for his arrest.

They reported Brinkley’s car had damage they could link to the crime.

At one point during interviews with police, Brinkley told them he thought he hit something Sunday morning, but stopped and an officer at the scene told him it was debris and he should go home; at another point in interviews he admitted to hitting the woman and getting out of the car and seeing her lying on the road, according to the probable cause affidavit for his arrest.

Police reported that Barton fled the scene when he saw police arrive. Officers caught him 2.3 miles away after a brief chase. He admitted to arresting officers that he had two beers that night. He then failed field sobriety tests, which included walk and turn and one-leg stand. He registered 0.07 in a breathalyzer test.

Jim Clevenger, the Delaware County coroner, said Beaty’s cause of death was “multiple blunt traumatic injuries.”

He also said Beaty’s boyfriend, David Pyles, 22, Muncie, told police she and he had just left a party where they had been drinking before the accident. Pyles suffered only minor injuries.

Beaty’s sister, Brandy Johnson, said Jamie was a caring person whose friends have come out en masse to support the family in their loss. Beaty left behind a 3-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son.

Clevenger has yet to confirm that Beaty was under the influence of alcohol the night of her death.

“I did tell our local police that I did smell alcohol in the blood at the scene,” Clevenger said. “We hope to have some answers for the family here in the next few weeks as the toxicology (test on her blood) comes back.”