Local News

Trial of Trucker Charged in 8 Deaths Begins Today

Posted September 8, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— The truck driver accused of killing eight people in a construction area wreck last year on Interstate-85 begins in Durham County court today.

Esau Dixon faces eight felony charges of involuntary manslaughter in the accident, which occurred Aug. 23, 1996. Seven of those who died were riding in a John Umstead Hospital van. In all, 24 people in five vehicles were involved in the wreck.

Troopers say Dixon was speeding when he hit several vehicles.

Before jury selection begins, attorneys are expected to argue over previously undisclosed statements that Dixon made to authorities.

Prosecutor Mitchell Garrell notified defense lawyer Thomas Loflin on Wednesday that he had learned of the statements. The notification did not include details of what Dixon said.

Wednesday was the final possible date Garrell could have notified Loflin of the statement without possibly losing his right to introduce the statements in the trial.

Loflin is expected to argue that Garrell also should have given him the contents of the statements, which are in addition to previously released statements from Dixon.