A Hendersonville man who plowed into a local couple who were walking to a neighborhood yard sale last October pleaded guilty Thursday to aggravated vehicular homicide, aggravated vehicular assault and leaving the scene of an accident.
Christopher Solomon, 44, will be sentenced in Sumner County Criminal Court on Dec. 8. He faces up to 33 years in prison.
Solomon was arrested by Hendersonville police on Oct. 15, 2016 after allegedly striking pedestrians Robert Pyles and Dineen Cottrell Pyles and driving away at around 1:30 p.m. that day. Robert Pyles died later in the day from his injuries.
When police located Solomon shortly after the accident, he said that he thought he hit a deer or a mailbox, Assistant District Attorney Bryna Grant said in court on Wednesday. He was unable to keep his eyes open, appeared lethargic, was sweating profusely and was licking his lips like he had a dry mouth, she added.
Solomon, who had two previous DUI convictions, told police he had taken a Percocet earlier in the day, said Grant. A blood test didn't show Percocet, however, but did show a high concentration of Benzoylecgonine - a form of cocaine.
Dineen Pyles, who was severely injured in the crash, cried softly from her wheelchair on the front row as Grant recounted the events of Oct. 15, 2016. She was accompanied by a young woman, identified by Grant as Pyles' daughter, who also sobbed openly.
Solomon appeared somber while Criminal Court Judge Dee David Gay asked him if he understood the charges and agreed to the plea. He has been held at the Sumner County Jail since his arrest.
Aggravated vehicular homicide is a Class A felony that carries a sentence of 15 to 25 years in prison. A Class C felony, aggravated vehicular assault carries a sentence of 3 to 6 years in prison. The leaving the scene of an accident charge is punishable by 1 to 2 years.
Gay will determine Solomon's sentence during a hearing on Dec. 8. The judge will also decide then whether Solomon will serve his sentences consecutively or concurrently.