Judge Ray Grimes found probable cause in evidence presented by the state to send the case against Miguel Ruiz-Matiaz to a grand jury during a Nov. 12 preliminary hearing in general sessions court.
Ruiz-Matiaz was in the courtroom, charged with two counts of vehicular homicide in a Sept. 30 crash on Guthrie Highway that resulted in the deaths of Suthun “Foo” Subhawong and his wife, Kay Subhawong.
Two other people in the same vehicle, David and Nina Baker, were injured in the crash.
Testimony revealed the defendant’s blood-alcohol level was nearly double the legal limit.
The judge refused bond to the defendant for several reasons, including a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold placed on Ruiz-Matiaz.
Assistant District Attorney Art Bieber questioned Sgt. Brandon McCauley, with the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s criminal investigation division.
McCauley said with the help of an interpreter, he was able to interview Ruiz-Matiaz at Vanderbilt University Medical Center the day following the wreck.
Ruiz-Matiaz admitted he drank five 12-ounce Modelo beers after he left work in Adams, just prior to the crash, according to McCauley’s testimony.
Blood tests administered by paramedics at the crash scene showed a blood-alcohol level of 0.152 for the defendant, according to State Trooper Alex Snyder.
Under Tennessee's driving under the influence laws, it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol level of .08% or higher.
Snyder said on the early evening of Sept. 30, he was working another wreck on Highway 79 when he heard what sounded like a loud explosion at the rear of the already backed-up traffic.
Paramedics, who had also worked the previous wreck, were already on the scene attending to the victims when Snyder arrived.
“I saw the at-fault vehicle, Nissan Frontier, with an individual standing near,” Snyder said. “I observed him trying to light a cigarette. He was dropping his cigarettes and having trouble standing on his feet.”
Snyder said he concluded the driver was possibly impaired.
He described how the suspect, who he identified in the courtroom as Ruiz-Matiaz, tried to run from him, even jumping a fence to get away.
After a struggle, Snyder said he secured Ruiz-Matiaz and placed him in handcuffs inside his patrol vehicle.
Ruiz-Matiaz was eventually taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center for treatment.
The prosecution revealed to Grimes the defendant had four prior DUI arrests, including one in Montgomery County; two in Robertson County and another in Florida.
After Defense Attorney Tyler Howard requested a bond amount be set for his client, Grimes said he assessed his decision to deny bond on several factors, including the defendant’s attempt to flee, the multiple prior DUIs, previous charges of a Class-A felony and that Ruiz-Matiaz had an ICE hold on him.
“Based on all of these factors, I have probable cause to bind these matters over to a grand jury,” Grimes said. “He will be held without bond.”
In addition to the two vehicular homicide charges, Ruiz-Matiaz also faces resisting arrest. Following Snyder’s testimony in court, Grimes dismissed the assault on a police officer charge. Grimes said he felt the act was unintentional.