NEW PORT RICHEY — Weepy and speaking just above a whisper, Brittany Miles said she remembers little of the morning of May 10, 2011, when her actions left a Pasco deputy crumpled on U.S. 19 and a Hernando motorcyclist dead.
"The whole incident is fuzzy," Miles testified Tuesday in her trial in Pasco County, where she faces charges of attempted murder, escape, fleeing law enforcement and DUI. Miles, 22, will face a separate trial in January in Hernando County for the death of motorcyclist Henry McCain, 67.
Miles told jurors she began an oxycodone addiction after a car accident in 2009, when a doctor prescribed the medication for her back pain. On that fateful morning in 2011, Miles said, she was already high on oxycodone when she was arrested for a suspected DUI in Hudson. She said she had hidden several Xanax pills in her underwear. While sitting in the back of a Pasco sheriff's cruiser, Miles said she worried about the pills, for which she didn't have a prescription.
"I was thinking about how I had these pills on me now and I know that I needed to get rid of them," she said, her voice breaking into sobs. "I would be in more trouble (if caught with them) so I took all of the pills out of my underwear and I swallowed them."
"How many?" asked her attorney, Robert Rawlins.
"Somewhere around eight or nine," she said.
Things started getting even more fuzzy. She said she was scared. The cruiser's window had been left down after a deputy needed to speak with Miles.
"The window was down. I slipped my handcuff off and I opened the door and I got out and ran," said Miles, then a 21-year-old exotic dancer with a young son. She said she was able to get the cuff off because she has small wrists.
Miles ran to her truck, which still had the keys in it. She said she didn't even know Pasco Deputy Ashley Grady was chasing her or that the deputy had jumped onto the side of the pickup until Miles had floored the gas.
A tow truck driver testified that Grady clung to Miles' truck as it peeled out of the parking lot, hit a drainage ditch, flew onto two wheels and nearly hit a light pole before careening onto U.S. 19, which was thick was morning rush-hour traffic.
"I looked at the speedometer," Grady testified Tuesday, "and we were already going over 70 miles per hour."
Grady said she kept telling Miles to stop, that running wasn't worth it. Miles told her she wasn't going to jail, Grady testified, and kept trying to elbow her out of the truck.
"How forcefully was she pushing you?" Assistant State Attorney Vin Petty asked Grady.
"To a point where I couldn't hold on anymore," Grady said.
Grady hit the pavement hard. She said she knew she was on U.S. 19 and she was scared of getting hit by another car. She had a broken leg, cuts and bruises and a concussion. She couldn't see. The world spun around her. She just kept rolling, hoping to get to a safe place.
Pasco sheriff's mechanic Timothy Moore, who was at the scene to impound Miles' truck, ran across the highway, waved his arms and blocked traffic so the deputy wouldn't get hit. He found Grady in the road, still conscious. And angry.
Keep up with Tampa Bay’s top headlines
Subscribe to our free DayStarter newsletter
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
"She said, 'The b---- pushed me out the window,' " Moore said.
Grady was in the hospital for 24 hours and off work for three months, using a walker and then crutches. She said she still gets dizzy sometimes and, depending on the weather, her leg aches.
Grady, now 24 and back to work full time, was suspended for five days without pay for violating agency regulation by leaving the cruiser window down.
Miles said it all happened very fast.
"She was there and then she wasn't there," Miles told jurors. "I didn't even realize she had gotten hurt."
Miles' defense team told jurors that she admits to everything that happened that day — except the attempted murder charge, which hinges on whether Miles purposely pushed Grady off the truck.
"Did you push Deputy Grady?" Rawlins asked.
"No," Miles said. "I didn't."
"What was going through your mind?" he asked.
"I was just scared. I was panicking. … I really didn't mean to hurt her," Miles said. "If I could take that back, I would. I didn't mean for her to get hurt. I just panicked."
The chase north on U.S. 19 exceeded 100 mph, witnesses testified, with Miles swerving through traffic. Authorities say Miles blew through a red light at U.S. 19 and County Line Road, killing McCain.
The Pasco jury — six jurors and three alternates — have not heard about McCain's death. They only know there was an accident at County Line Road and that Miles' truck stopped some distance north of there. They know she ran from the truck and was tackled by a deputy. Miles cried at the mention of County Line Road and said she only remembers "flashes."
"I honestly don't remember much of the chase at all," she said.
"I was extremely messed up. I remember driving in my truck and the next thing I remember is being in custody."
Both the state and defense rested their cases Tuesday.
The trial is expected to continue today with closing arguments and then the jury will deliberate on Miles' fate.
Erin Sullivan can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 869-6229.