Corey Bruce Patrick, 34, of Hurricane Mills, Tenn., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Knoxville, to second degree murder resulting from an automobile crash involving alcohol and high-speed in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Patrick agreed to waive indictment and plead guilty to information charging him with this offense.
The penalty for second degree murder is up to life in prison, a fine of up $250,000, a term of supervised release of up to five years, and a $100 special assessment. Patrick’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for 2:00 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, in U.S. District Court in Knoxville.
If the plea agreement is accepted by the court, Patrick and United States have agreed that he will be sentenced to serve 180 months in prison. The court will determine any fine amount, supervised release term, and restitution at the sentencing hearing.
According to facts contained in the plea agreement on file with U.S. District Court, in October 2014, Patrick drove the victim’s car at a high-rate of speed within the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, after drinking alcohol at the Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine distillery in Gatlinburg. In a text message sent from the victim’s cell phone at approximately 2:03 a.m., one-minute before the crash, the victim described Patrick’s driving as “he’s driving fast and crazy.” At 2:04 a.m., witnesses to the crash called 911 and reported that Patrick hit a tree head-on. While attempting to remove him from the car, Patrick told rescue personnel that he had been drinking before the crash. The victim suffered multiple blunt force injuries from the crash which resulted in her death at the crash scene.
This investigation was handled by the National Park Service, Tennessee Highway Patrol, and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brooklyn Sawyers represented the United States.