Court

It took a Tallapoosa County jury less than 11 minutes to find Amy Clampitt guilty of manslaughter Monday following a trial that started last Tuesday.

The State of Alabama contends Clampitt was behind the wheel of an automobile in January 2017 trying to avoid a traffic stop in the Eagle Creek area when she and Jimmy Dugan were ejected from a car traveling at a high rate of speed at the intersection of Concord Road and Highway 49. Dugan was pronounced dead at the scene and Clampitt was flown to a Columbus hospital for her injuries.

Clampitt took the stand in her own defense Monday saying it was Dugan behind the wheel, despite video footage from first responders in which Clampitt said she was driving.

“I said I was,” Clampitt said from the stand. “I didn’t think I was going to make it and I didn’t want him to go to jail. I didn’t want him to get into trouble. I was scared he was going to jail.”

Clampitt told a story of her and Dugan traveling to Heflin following someone who brought a tire to replace one that had blown out on her car. 

“He decided to ride with me,” Clampitt said.

The couple stopped in Cleburne County to replace more tires on Clampitt’s car while Dugan drank beer, but not as much as he had in the past, according to Clampitt. She said Dugan was still a functioning alcoholic and they had been living together as a couple for a year.

“He was drinking a case a day, every other day (when we met),” Clampitt said. “He was down to a case every week or so. He gave up so much for me. He gave up partying for me.”

Clampitt said Dugan would sometimes drive.

“He had no license,” Clampitt said. “He had previous DUIs. He finished his last beer before we left. (When) we left there, I was driving.”

Clampitt said she was getting tired on the drive and even nodded off driving slightly off the road near Lineville. It was there before getting to Goldville on Highway 49 Clampitt said Dugan took over driving.

“I remember laying the seat back and taking my shoes off,” Clampitt said. “I nodded off.”

Clampitt said she started to wake up as the couple met Tallapoosa County deputy sheriff Win Knight and saw Knight’s brake lights.

“I told Jimmy to hurry and find a driveway,” Clampitt said.

Clampitt said she wanted to stop so they could swap places in the car so Dugan could avoid charges.

“I apologize for all of it,” Clampitt said. “If I was driving, I would have pulled over.”

Under cross examination, Clampitt admitted she had pleaded guilty to manufacturing methamphetamines. Assistant district attorney Kevin Hall asked her what was her preferred method of making the controlled substance.

“Shake and bake,” Clampitt said.

Alabama Law Enforcement Agency State Trooper Dan Jackson said it was Clampitt who was driving and returned to the stand after he was recalled by Clampitt’s attorney Michelle Perez. Perez questioned Jackson about the reports he prepared and their accuracy as part of the investigation into the accident. 

Perez asked for a mistrial through a motion filed over the weekend because she said the case had received too much attention and might influence the jury. The attention came through an article published by The Outlook about Clampitt’s arrest Thursday in Dadeville after Fifth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Steve Perryman recessed the trial until Monday. Clampitt was arrested during a traffic stop in Dadeville for child support warrant from Clay County. The driver of the car left the scene and upon a subsequent search of the vehicle law enforcement found burnt foil with trace amounts of methamphetamine. Perez said the attention through the article, Facebook and alexcityoutlook.com would prejudice the jury and prevent Clampitt from receiving a fair trial.

Perryman denied the motion after asking the jury if it had talked about, heard about or seen about anything about Clampitt and the manslaughter trial.

Perryman will sentence Clampitt on June 27. Hall informed Perez and Clampitt the state intends to ask Perryman to sentence Clampitt as a habitual offender. Court documents show Clampitt has two previous felony convictions, the manufacturing of methamphetamines and chemical endangerment of a child.

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.

Staff Writer

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.