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Driver denies guilt in teacher's death
Driver denies guilt in teachers death
Spokane accident also injured victims daughter
By ERICA JAHN
A man accused of driving drunk and killing a Federal Way teacher and injuring her daughter in Spokane July 31 has pleaded not guilty to charges of vehicular homicide and vehicular assault.
Jimmie D. Brewer, 49, was arraigned in Spokane County Superior Court last week. He will appear in court again Dec. 20. His trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 6.
According to police, Brewers blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit when he allegedly crashed into the back of the Mustang driven by Lake Grove Elementary School teacher Patricia Klasen, 46, who was in Spokane with her daughter, Breanna Klasen, 17, for a softball tournament.
Authorities said Brewer was heading south on State Route 395 near the intersection of Hawthorne Road, where several drivers, including Klasen, were stopped at a stop light.
Witnesses told police that Brewers Chevrolet pickup was weaving over the center line as he approached the intersection. Spokane County deputy prosecutor Clint Frances said there was no indication Brewer was speeding, but witnesses reported he didnt appear to hit his brakes prior to the collision.
A police inspection of his truck after the collision showed the brakes and brake lights functioned normally, authorities said.
The impact from the collision pushed Klasens car into the car in front of her and caused a five-car chain reaction at the intersection.
Klasen and her daughter were taken to Deaconess Medical Center in Spokane, where the mother died. Breanna Klasen suffered serious injuries, including possible internal injuries and a fractured hand. She was released from the hospital the next afternoon.
State troopers noted a strong smell of alcohol on Brewer when they arrived at the scene of the crash, according to charging papers. They arrested him for vehicular assault after asking him to perform sobriety tests, but the charge was upgraded to vehicular homicide when after Patricia Klasen had died.
Staff writer Erica Jahn can be reached at 925-5565 and firstname.lastname@example.org