Witnesses describe Pickett's "erratic" driving, anger, before fatal bicycle crash

When the prosecutor asked Pam Barletta how she knew Charles Pickett Jr., she didn't answer. She proceeded to talk abo...

Posted: Apr 28, 2018 10:19 AM
Updated: Apr 28, 2018 10:19 AM

When the prosecutor asked Pam Barletta how she knew Charles Pickett Jr., she didn't answer. She proceeded to talk about the day of the crash and how they'd gone to his cousin's funeral in Battle Creek. However when they returned to the motel she was staying at in Kalamazoo, they got in an argument.

"Charlie was upset at that point in time," Barletta testified. "He thought that he was going to go home with me and that just wasn't possible."

She said "Charlie," as she called him, had been upset for most of the day. He lost his closest cousin and was depressed about it.

"He had a hand full of pills in his hand," she said about what came next. "[He] chucked them in his mouth and just said 'I ought to be dead. I should just be dead."

She told him it was not smart for him to drive. But he sped off anyway. Since then, Pickett has been charged in the crash that killed five cyclists and injured four others. They were called The Chain Gang and were out riding on Westnedge Avenue in Cooper Township on Tuesday June 7, 2016 when police said a blue pickup truck struck them from behind. Thursday, detectives and witnesses testified about what they saw that day.

"He didn't recall the crash," said Detective Richard Mattison with the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office. "However he'd been advised by medical staff and Deputy Skinner that he had been involved in an accident and his belief was that one person had been killed."

Det. Mattison told him that it was five people killed. He interviewed Pickett for 40 minutes while he was being treated at Borgess Hospital. He said Pickett told him that he'd been taking methamphetamine for two years for his nerves. The day of the crash, officers found meth and painkillers in his truck. Craig Butler talked about that truck during his testimony. He remembered it from the day he was picking his daughter up from Pinecrest Day School.

"I was suddenly tailgated," said Butler about driving on Nichols Road that day. "[He was] close that I could see the front of his pickup truck."

Keith Wiley also remembered seeing that truck when he was at the intersection of Douglas Avenue and Mosel Avenue. The driver was so close, Wiley said he could see the leaves in the grill of his vehicle and thought at one point he was going to be rear-ended by him.

"I noticed in my rear-view mirror that he was driving erratically," said Wiley. "When I got home to my house I wasn't there but a few minutes and I heard a bunch of sirens. So I kind of put 2-and-2 together thinking 'boy I hope it's not that vehicle I'd seen.'"

The prosecution played a few 9-1-1 calls made that day, minutes before the crash. One caller told the dispatcher that he saw pickup truck driving "crazy" on Arboretum Parkway. Another caller said that a vehicle drove through his front yard. The last caller, a mother, said she saw him jump out of the lane on Drake Road, near Kalamazoo Central High School, and take out a sign.

"He looked very disoriented," said Melissa Schultz who was driving with her daughter that day. "[His] head was bobbing up and down. He seemed very disoriented, very confused."

Schultz later found him in the school's parking lot, she said, and was able to get close enough to get his license plate number. But when he saw her, he sped off. She called police to report him. Minutes later they called her back and took her to the scene of the crash. There she identified him and the truck he was driving.

The prosecution stated Thursday afternoon that they have no further witnesses to call. The defense said Pickett will not testify in the trial. Closing arguments are scheduled for Tuesday May 1.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 307519

Reported Deaths: 7096
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20772248
Hinds19888408
Harrison17489302
Rankin13311275
Jackson13097243
Madison9895210
Lee9856169
Jones8290160
Forrest7523146
Lauderdale7187237
Lowndes6262144
Lamar610584
Lafayette6027117
Washington5280132
Bolivar4769129
Oktibbeha455297
Panola4442103
Pearl River4419139
Warren4280118
Marshall4273100
Pontotoc416472
Monroe4057132
Union403675
Neshoba3987176
Lincoln3869108
Hancock372085
Leflore3468124
Sunflower329389
Tate322681
Pike3180104
Scott310572
Yazoo304368
Alcorn297764
Itawamba296776
Copiah292965
Coahoma289677
Simpson287484
Tippah284668
Prentiss275659
Marion265779
Wayne261341
Leake261073
Grenada254982
Covington254580
Adams245882
Newton244859
George237847
Winston225981
Tishomingo222067
Jasper219748
Attala213273
Chickasaw204857
Holmes186471
Clay182454
Stone179131
Clarke176876
Tallahatchie175240
Calhoun163230
Yalobusha158836
Smith158534
Walthall130543
Greene129433
Lawrence126223
Noxubee125933
Montgomery125542
Perry125138
Carroll120826
Amite120041
Webster113432
Jefferson Davis105432
Tunica102525
Claiborne101330
Benton97225
Kemper95226
Humphreys94332
Franklin81823
Quitman78916
Choctaw72817
Jefferson64828
Wilkinson64727
Sharkey49617
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 518899

Reported Deaths: 10712
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson753641487
Mobile37763798
Madison33859494
Tuscaloosa25266443
Montgomery23962565
Shelby23106238
Baldwin20631300
Lee15524165
Calhoun14284311
Morgan14139268
Etowah13662345
Marshall11957219
Houston10380278
Elmore9993200
Limestone9811147
Cullman9470188
St. Clair9426234
Lauderdale9215227
DeKalb8746181
Talladega8058171
Walker7087275
Jackson6754110
Autauga6723103
Blount6483135
Colbert6203130
Coffee5399112
Dale4767110
Russell428838
Franklin419982
Chilton4083109
Covington4053114
Tallapoosa3893146
Escambia387674
Dallas3527149
Chambers3499122
Clarke346360
Marion3065100
Pike305875
Lawrence295395
Winston272372
Bibb256258
Marengo248661
Geneva245875
Pickens232959
Barbour224755
Hale218775
Butler212266
Fayette208960
Henry187844
Cherokee182044
Randolph176941
Monroe171440
Washington164038
Macon154548
Clay149354
Crenshaw149257
Cleburne146041
Lamar139234
Lowndes136453
Wilcox124327
Bullock121340
Conecuh109028
Perry107926
Sumter102932
Coosa99228
Greene90734
Choctaw58724
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 79°
Columbus
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 72°
Oxford
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 66°
Starkville
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 68°
A cold front will move into our area during our Tuesday. This front will bring some chances for some rain and isolated thunderstorms for our Tuesday night. Some of the activity will linger in our area into our Wednesday.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather