Formal jury selection underway for bicycle crash suspect, Charles Pickett Jr.


KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Almost two years after a tragic crash took the lives of five cyclists, the man accused of plowing into their group with his pickup truck, while high on drugs, will stand trial.

Charles Pickett Jr. faces five counts of second degree murder, five counts of operating while intoxicated causing death and four counts of operating while intoxicated causing serious injury.

Formal jury selection begins Tuesday in the 9th Circuit Court of Kalamazoo County. Monday, those who were unable to serve on the jury were dismissed. The jury selection process is expected to last a few days.

On June 7, 2016, a group of cyclists known as "The Chain Gang" were riding on North Westnedge Avenue near Markin Glen Park in Cooper Township when police said Pickett plowed into them.

Nine cyclists were hit. Debbie Bradley, Suzanne Sippel, Larry Paulik, Tony Nelson and Melissa Fevig-Hughes were all killed in the crash. Paul Gobble, Sheila Jeske, Paul Runnels and Jennifer Johnson were all seriously injured.

A toxicology report later revealed Pickett was under the influence of methamphetamine and several prescription drugs at the time.

In the one year and 10 months following the crash, Pickett's trial was pushed back several times.

In August 2017, Pickett's attorneys tried to suppress the statements he made to police while being treated in the hospital. The appeal was heard, then denied, then appealed again to the Michigan Supreme Court.

Then in January of 2018, the state Supreme court denied Pickett's appeal.

Now nearly two years since the horrific crash claimed the lives of five people, Pickett will head to trial on second degree murder and drugged driving charges.

Formal jury selection is expected to last a few days. The trial will begin directly after.

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