No charges filed against man in deadly hit-and-run

New mom Denice Pate killed in October 31st accident

By Shawn Ley - Reporter

DETROIT - A suspected drunk driver who ran a red light in Detroit on Halloween causing an accident that took the life of a new mother has not been charged and is free.


It happened at Mack and Alter on Detroit's east side around 2am October 31st.

Witnesses say they saw the driver speeding east on Mack, then the driver ran the red light, slamming into a car where 36 year old Denice "Michelle" Pate was the passenger. Pate was killed.

Pate had a six week old boy at home at the time of the accident. She and her fiance were out for the night at a Halloween party, it was the first time she had gone out since having her baby boy.

The suspected drunk driver left his car, checked on the victims and ran east on Mack Avenue.

Police from Detroit and Grosse Pointe converged to catch the suspect only moments later.  Police sources on the scene tell Local 4 they believe the man was drunk.  Investigators got a warrant to draw the suspect's blood to help bolster their case.

Sources tell Local 4 the van left at the scene of the accident is registered to the man caught running from the accident.

Now, 15 days later, Local 4 has learned that the Wayne County Prosecutor has declined to charge the suspect for now.

Detroit Police sent their case to Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy's office for review on November 1st.  A spokeswoman for Worthy says no charges were filed and the case was sent back to police for further investigation.

Detroit Police say they were told by the prosecutor's office that since the suspect was not behind the wheel of the vehicle at the time of the arrest, they want more evidence to prove that he was actually driving and that he caused the accident.

Police say that means they must find witnesses who saw the suspect driving his car before the accident, or getting out of his car after causing the accident.

Pate's mother, Verna Jellison tells Local 4 this morning that she's devastated that the man who may have killed her daughter is free today and free to drive.

"He's also free to flee and that's exactly what I think he's going to do." Jellison tells Local 4.

Police tell us they are witnesses.

Jellison says there is a twist in the case that she learned of recently.  That the driver side-swiped a car with people in it down the street on Mack prior to the deadly accident. The man sped off from that scene and ran right into the SUV Pate was riding in.

Jellison says she's urging those witnesses to come forward and tell police exaclty what they saw when they were hit that night.

Local 4's Shawn Ley is currently working this case and will have new details on Local 4 News starting at 5 tonight.


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