In DWI wreck, father of injured woman wants defendant’s bond revoked

Karen Wheeler. Photo: Haywood County Sheriff's Office

A Haywood County father wants bond revoked for the woman charged with DWI in an accident years ago that left his daughter with brain injuries.

Forty-two-year-old Karen Wheeler was charged in 2011. The case stalled over questions of her competency, and she now faces new drug charges.

Randall Garrett says it's taken too long for his daughter Stacey, and his entire family to get justice. But they want Wheeler to get help, too.

In December 2011, a horrific collision on New Leicester Highway in Buncombe County left drivers Karen Wheeler and Stacey Garrett with brain injuries.

Wheeler was charged with felony DWI, felony serious injury, and other crimes.

Questions about her competency to stand trial started in her Buncombe County court appearances. She remained out on bond, and in October 2014 she was charged with shoplifting liquor from a Haywood County ABC store.

A Haywood County judge then ruled on the larceny charge that she lacked the capacity to stand trial.

In late February 2018, as a passenger in a car, Wheeler was arrested by Waynesville police and charged with possession of methamphetamine, morphine, and drug paraphernalia.

“It begs the question. If she's incompetent, how is she able to get out here and do these things?” asks Garrett.

Garrett’s says almost seven years is too long to wait for accountability for his daughter, a young woman whose life is changed forever.

“She doesn't understand things, she's not able to talk,” he says.

Garrett wants Wheeler's bond revoked, to help with closure--but also to help Karen Wheeler.

“Unless we can get this woman off the road, get her into a rehab program, give her a second chance at life, that's all we're asking,” he says.

He suggests a minimum three-month rehab

“He's been as strong an advocate for her as he has for his own daughter,” says Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s Ellen Pitt.

Pitt says justice has taken too long in the Wheeler case.

She says of Wheeler, “She is consciously committing crimes all over the place.”

Garrett says, “The only good that can come out of this is get Karen off the road and get her the kind of help that she needs. I want to know I tried,” he says.

On Wheeler's recent drug charges from last month in Haywood County, District Attorney Ashley Welch says they've put a rush on the drug analysis from the state lab.

The Buncombe District Attorney’s office contacted the Waynesville Police Department Thursday after learning of the new charges there, and obtained copies of their reports.

Late Friday afternoon, the Buncombe County District Attorney’s Office reported Wheeler has been added to the March 19, 2018 Superior Court docket with a motion to revoke her bond. They've also requested Haywood DSS begin an investigation.

Wheeler was released, the DA's office said, into her mother's custody.

The DA’s office filed a report with the Haywood County Department of Social Services – Adult Protective Services, reporting that Wheeler, who is on release to the custody of her mother in the criminal case, is a neglected dependent adult who is not being supervised, and requesting an investigation.

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