If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
Chavers also faces new tampering with evidence charge
By RUSSELL TURNER
A Lucedale man is facing a multi-count indictment roughly 18 months after an ATV he was allegedly driving plowed through a group of people leaving a party in Leakesville, killing two and injuring others.
Derrick Wayne Chavers, 37, of Lucedale, turned himself into local authorities on Monday morning after being indicted by a Greene County Grand Jury on two counts of manslaughter, one count of aggravated assault and one count of tampering with physical evidence related to a deadly ATV crash in Leakesville on Dec. 12, 2020. Chavers is accused of driving his Can-Am Commander ATV into a group of people who were leaving a large house party on Louisiana Street in Leakesville that evening. Wesley Kyle Smith, 23, of Lucedale and Thomas Levi Lewis, 17, of Runnelstown were killed in the incident, while Christopher Cody Smith, 25, of Lucedale, was seriously injured. Others sustained minor injuries.
According to a copy of the indictment secured by the Herald, Chavers is accused of culpable negligent operation of an ATV in the deaths of Smith and Lewis. In count three of the indictment (aggravated assault) Chavers is accused of “willful indifference to the value of human life” in causing the injuries to Smith. Count four of the indictment charges Chavers with tampering with physical evidence in the case for allegedly switching clothing with another person to hide that he was the driver of the ATV when the fatal collision occurred. The indictment does not indicate who Chavers allegedly conspired with, but according to reports in the days following the crash, Chavers told officials he was a passenger in the ATV at the time of the accident and his son, a minor who was not named, was the driver.
The incident occurred during a gathering at 1221 Louisiana Street reportedly attended by 100 people or more. Reports painted a chaotic picture that included fights between multiple people. Police responded to complaints about the gathering that night, but said there was not sufficient cause to break up the party or make any arrests prior to the ATV incident.
Four days later, Chavers turned himself into authorities. He was released from the Greene County Jail the following day after surrendering his passport and posting a $250,000 bond.
Chavers surrendered to authorities again on Monday after the indictment was served, but was not detained.
Chavers was set for an original arraignment hearing in Greene County Circuit Court this Friday, July 29. However, according to court records, Chavers’ attorney has filed a waiver of arraignment with Judge Kathy Jackson which will likely push his court appearance back to the August term.