WILLAMSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – The plea agreement for a man facing a second-degree murder charge for an alleged drug deal that led to a teenager’s overdose and death wasn’t accepted by a Williamson County Judge.
Police say Jesse Cruz sold heroin cut with fentanyl to 18-year-old Hannah Hicks and that those drugs killed her.
Judge Binkley didn’t accept the plea agreement, mostly based off the conduct of Cruz’s attorney who sent out a press release.
The press release sent to news stations stated that the Law Office of W.L. Pomeroy reached a settlement with the District Attorney’s office.
A move that left the judge puzzled.
“I still can not understand why or what the purpose was of you releasing that press release. I can not understand that,” Judge Binkley sternly addressed Pomeroy.
The Judge mentioned how it’s insensitive to the family of Hannah Hicks.
Friday, her father addressed the judge about the issue as well saying that is how he found out about the plea deal.
“How ethical is this? I’m releasing a press release basically saying I’m getting my client off on a three-year plea deal,” Todd Hicks explained to the court.
Hicks went on to say that the District Attorney’s office hasn’t handled the case well from the beginning.
“I personally feel the way this is being handled is horrific. Is this a war on drugs or is this a war within our criminal justice system?” Hicks questioned.
District Attorney Kim Helper told News 2 that she understands the heartache and heartbreak within the family and apologizes, saying that they could have done a better job communicating with the family early on.
The father says he hopes to save another family from the heartbreak that they have been through.
He asked the Judge to keep the second-degree murder charge, while also speaking directly to the man accused in the death of his daughter.
“Jesse, the bible tells us to forgive, I’m trying but I’m not there yet….may God be with you,” he said.
Cruz had pleaded not guilty to selling drugs to Hicks and was scheduled for trial later this month.
The DA said they were willing to settle for lesser charges because they didn’t believe they could ethically prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” in the second-degree murder charge at this time.