NASHVILLE — A woman who sold her car to a 13-year-old boy is behind bars, charged with murder in a subsequent crash in which the teen killed an elderly driver.
Katrina Lyn Russell, 37, of Nashville, is charged with vehicular homicide by reckless conduct and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. She is being held in the Davidson County Jail in lieu of $6,000 bond.
Metropolitan Nashville police officials said the charges stem from a March 5 crash that killed David Lawrence Cheatham, 71, of Nashville.
The teen driver, whose name has not been released, was driving a white Dodge Dart along Nolensville Pike the morning of the crash. According to police, the boy was speeding away from the scene of a hit-and-run crash.
Cheatham, who had just made a purchase at O’Reilly Auto Parts, was about to exit the parking lot when his Dodge Challenger was struck by the teen’s car. Cheatham died at the scene, authorities said.
Police began investigating how the teen obtained the keys to the Dart, which had not been reported stolen. After he was treated at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, the teen was booked on charges of vehicular homicide by recklessness, driving without a license and no proof of insurance.
In Tennessee, teens typically must be at least 15 years old to get a learner’s permit. To obtain a hardship driver license, which is issued in cases of family hardship, a person must be at least 14 years old.
Detectives determined that Russell, who is homeless, was the legal owner of the Dodge Dart. The teen driver told police he bought the car from Russell for $80.
Officers arrested Russell Wednesday after responding to a call stating that people were squatting in a home under renovation on Helmwood Drive in Nashville.
“Russell came to the door and told officers that she was helping a friend paint the house,” a news release said.
She was taken into custody on the charges related to the fatal crash.
Cheatham’s daughter, Dia Mimms, told WKRN in Nashville that her parents would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in June. Cheatham and his wife, Jenice Cheatham, had already begun planning for the occasion.
“We feel as if the wind has been let out of our sails, (we’ve been) punched in the stomach,” Mimms told the news station. “For such a selfish, truly selfish act to take him away is devastating to us.”
The family wants to see justice for Cheatham, something they acknowledged might look different with a juvenile.
“Justice for me would be to see that kid acknowledge his mistake, accept it, realize there is a cost and realize that his actions affect anyone and everyone around him,” said Cheatham’s son, David Q. Cheatham.