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Sullivan Man Seeks Post Conviction Relief
Updated May 5, 2013 1:05 AM | Filed under: WBIW News
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(BLOOMFIELD) - Tra Hibbard, of Sullivan, who was sentenced to 45 years in prison in connection with a fatal crash Oct. 2, 2009, has filed a petition for post-conviction relief in Greene Superior Court. (GC DAILY WORLD)

25-year-old Hibbard is now an inmate at Wabash Correctional Facility in Carlisle.

He was convicted Aug. 17, 2010 on two counts of operating a vehicle with a controlled substance in blood causing death in an accident that killed Victor Newton and Debra Newton-Doyle.

He was also convicted of criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon resulting in serious bodily injury (class C felony) linked to the serious injury of three other people in the Newton minivan.

Hibbard agreed to a negotiated plea agreement and pled guilty to the three charges without going to trial.

His earliest possible release date, according to the Indiana Department of Correction, is April 10, 2032.

The accident happened on County Road 1500 West at 8:30 p.m. According to police reports the Newton minivan was traveling east on State Road 54 and Hibbard's truck was traveling south on County Road 1500W.

Police say Hibbard did not stop at the intersection and hit the Newton van knocking it off the roadway.

72-year-old Newton and his 45-year-old daughter, Debra K. Newton-Doyle, of Linton, were both pronounced dead at the scene.

Newton's wife, 71-year-old Violet E. Newton, was also a passenger in the van and was seriously injured along with the two sons of Debra Doyle.

Hibbard was also injured during the incident, as was his sister who was a passenger in the truck.

In the 22-page petition, Hibbard alleges that his lower court counsel was ineffective because it failed to seek suppression of the state's evidence derived from urine/blood samples obtained by search warrant from Wishard Hospital in Indianapolis. He alleges there was no chain of custody established with those lab results, comprising the validity and integrity of the specimens.

Hibbard, says he was unconscious and unaware when hospital personnel took blood and urine specimens from his body. He alleges the results of those tests were the basis of the charges that he pled guilty too and therefore did not go to trail.

The tests, done at Wishard, showed he had an alcohol concentration in his blood of .091 percent, above the .08 percent for intoxication in Indiana, according to court records. Marijuana (THC) was also detected in his urine sample.

Greene County Sheriff Department Det. George Dallaire reported on Oct. 22, 2009 that test results from AIT Laboratory showed the alcohol level in Hibbard's blood was .076 percent and THC in the urine.

Hibbard alleges proper chain of custody procedures were not followed. He says that if the evidence been suppressed, he would have gone to trial and not pled guilty.

The petition states Hibbard did not "knowingly" plead guilty to the charges against him. He says he did not use marijuana on the day of the wreck and did not know that marijuana metabolites were in his blood days after his use.

Hibbard alleges his trial counsel was ineffective for allowing him to enter into the plea agreement and the trial court was in error for accepting the plea where evidence existed that showed a third party. Hibbard alleges Stephen Dean was chasing him and trying to run him off the road and may have been the cause of the accident that caused the deaths and injuries.

Hibbard contends the trial counsel was ineffective when he was allowed to erroneously be charged with "being armed with a deadly weapon" when there was no information within any of the probable cause affidavits to support the allegation.

The petition alleges his Appellate counsel John Pinnow, of Greenwood, was ineffective in violation of the 6th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by failing to file certain documents that would have preserved his right to a review in the future.

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