Trial in Newport Hardee's Accident Moved to Walnut Ridge

FEBRUARY 22, 2007 - Posted at 8:01 a.m. CST

NEWPORT, AR - A judge says a driver whose pickup truck killed two recent school retirees when it crashed into a Hardee's restaurant will be tried on manslaughter charges at Walnut Ridge.  Circuit Judge Phil Smith of Pocahontas moved the trial yesterday out of Newport, where the accident occured.

Gary Nicholson, 44, of Newport, will be tried November 6.  He was arrested September 5 after his truck crashed into the fast-food restaurant, killing 61-year-old Beverly Tapp and 67-year-old Hilda Jane Wright and injuring five other people.

Smith granted a motion by Nicholson's attorney, Paul Petty of Searcy, seeking a new location for the trial.  Petty's motion cited the possibility that prospective jurors in Jackson County might be biased because of personal knowledge of people involved in the case, or because of media coverage of the case.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)