• Man accused of killing father faces victim's family in court

    By: Dave Faherty


    MORGANTON, N.C. - A man accused of killing a father and local corrections officer faced the victim's family inside a Morganton courtroom Thursday.

    Prosecutors said Lee Hutchins had several drugs in his system, and his blood sugar crashed but still kept driving.

    It has been an emotional case for family members. The correctional officer was killed in front of two of his children and his wife, who were in the van when the accident happened.

    A nearby cross marks the spot along Highway 64 south of Morganton where Michael Piercy was killed.  Two of his daughters were also injured in the crash.

    "Nobody is going to be the same.  None of us are ever going to be the same.  It is forever changed.  There is an empty seat there and there always will be,” said aunt Pam Pike.

    Family members of Piercy have been in court for the entire trial.  

    Prosecutors said Hutchins was driving erratically prior to the accident before he slammed into the family's van.   He is charged with involuntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon.  The day he was indicted he told reporters it was his diabetes that caused the accident. 

    Hutchins pulled over before the accident and ate peanut butter to raise his blood sugar.

    Prosecutors said he kept driving despite concerns expressed by a friend shortly before the accident.  He also had hydrocodone and marijuana in his system.

    Debra Harwood wants justice for her son, Michael. She said she knows people with diabetes who don't take chances with their blood sugar.

    "I think you need to take proper care of yourself.  Don't mix it with something else.  Eat the way you are supposed to.   And treat yourself right,” Harwood said.

    After the lunch break, Hutchins stood up and told the judge he planned to testify.

    Read our past coverage:

    Burke Co. Grand Jury indicts man accused of killing father of 4 girls

    Corrections officer killed in Tuesday wreck, troopers say

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