Columbia Man Sentenced to Six Years in Prison After 2020 Crash Kills Teen

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Photo from Brent Cooper, District Attorney/Facebook

Gavin Sheets, age 21 of Columbia, was sentenced on Monday to six years in prison for a 2020 vehicular homicide charge that claimed the life of a 16-year-old.

Brent Cooper, District Attorney 22nd Judicial District writes the following:

After an emotional hearing, Judge Chris Sockwell sentenced 21-year-old Sheets to the maximum sentence of 6 years, to serve in the Tennessee Department of Corrections. Sheets had previously entered a plea of guilty to Reckless Vehicular Homicide, which carries a sentence of 3 to 6 years.

During the Monday afternoon hearing, Sockwell heard testimony from multiple witnesses. Among the witnesses were Jennifer and Jonathon Brown, parents of Jillian Brown, 16, who lost her life in the crash. They described Jillian as smart, funny, and a model teenager who was set to graduate early from high school and had a promising career ahead in her father’s business. They described the death of their daughter as “devastating” to their family and said that their lives and the lives of their other children were forever changed.

Trooper Ricky Alexander, Jr. of the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s Critical incident Response Team, testified that Sheets’ vehicle traveled approximately 487 feet, tumbling multiple times, after failing to navigate a turn in Sheegog Lane. Alexander also testified that the airbag control module on Sheets’ red 2012 Chevrolet Sonic recorded recorded a speed of 112 mph at 2.5 seconds before deployment of the airbag. Sheets and front seat passenger Tyler Blalock were airlifted from the scene. Brown, the passenger side rear seat passenger, was pronounced deceased at the scene.Former Columbia Police Officer Mike Barnick testified that, at approximately 7:00 a.m. on July 9, 2020, he charged Sheets with Reckless Driving after clocking him traveling at 92 mph on James Campbell Blvd. in Columbia, TN. Sheets enter a plea of guilty to Reckless Driving on September 23, 2020, less than a month before killing Jillian Brown. He was placed on probation for six months.

While handing down his sentence Circuit Judge Chris Sockwell described Sheets’ driving habits as “Like a missile waiting to hit something, that, unfortunately, hit the Brown family.” DA Brent Cooper stated that, “Hopefully, the Brown family can begin to heal a little now. Maybe, this sentence will deter other young people from driving recklessly and will save lives in the future.”

Assistant District Attorney Victoria Haywood, DUI Specialist, was the lead Prosecutor on the case. She was assisted by DUI Coordinator Donna Cash.

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