COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A man accused of killing a woman and her two children in a Cookeville crash back in January 2021 will serve 24 years in prison with the possibility of parole.
The Office of the District Attorney General says Michael Don Shepherd entered a guilty plea on Monday. Shepherd pleads guilty to three counts of vehicular homicide by intoxication and one count of evading arrest in a motor vehicle stemming from the crash. Shepherd received an effective 24-year prison sentence.
On January 26, 2021, Shepherd was driving recklessly on Interstate 40 and had an outstanding warrant for his arrest. Shepherd was fleeing from officers in his truck and continued to drive recklessly at a high rate of speed. He later got off the interstate during morning rush hour traffic and continued on through traffic in Cookeville.
As the truck approached the intersection of Interstate Drive and South Willow Avenue, the truck ran a red light and crashed into a Nissan traveling northbound on South Willow Avenue.
The crash forced both vehicles to roll and come to rest of the west side of Willow Avenue. The driver of the Nissan, identified as Amanda Chatman, and her two children, Alexton and Bryadon, were killed in the crash.
“The loss of the lives Amanda Chatman and her two sons, Alexton and Braydon, ages 4 and 3 is heartbreaking for so many reasons. Their deaths were completely avoidable and are due directly to the selfish decisions of Michael Don Shepherd who chose to recklessly operate his truck while under the influence of a large amount of methamphetamine. Please keep Amanda, her two boys and their family in your prayers. It is so hard to deal with such loss,” District Attorney General Bryant C. Dunaway said in a statement.
Authorities tested a blood sample from Shepherd at the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s crime lab, which revealed a high amount of methamphetamine in Shepherd’s blood at the time of the crash.
Investigators interviewed Shepherd after the crash and during the interview, Shepherd admitted to fleeing from officers because he knew of his outstanding warrant. He also admitted to injecting himself with methamphetamine earlier that morning.