Charge of vehicular homicide filed

By William Thompson

Tucumcari resident Jimmy L. Ingram faces one count of homicide by vehicle in connection with the death of William Pangburn last November at the Country Inn Motel.
Pangburn, the late owner of the motel, died Nov. 3 after police said he was struck in the motel parking lot by a vehicle driven by Ingram. At the time of the incident, Tucumcari police Lt. Charles Newman said it appeared Pangburn’s death was an accident.
“Mr. Pangburn was painting parking lot stripes in the motel parking lot when Mr. Ingram tried to pull into a parking space,” Newman said. “Mr. Ingram thought he struck a paint bucket and pulled out of the space. He apparently didn’t know that he had struck Mr. Pangburn, and dragged him a good distance through the parking lot.”
The homicide by vehicle charge was filed June 7.
“It took a great deal of legal research to be properly satisfied we could charge him under the law,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Donald Schutte said, explaining why the charges were not filed sooner. “It wasn’t so clear under what criminal section of the law his actions would fall.”
In December, Ingram said Pangburn’s death was an accident.
”I didn’t see him (Pangburn). I thought he had already moved out of the way,” Ingram said. “I would never want any harm to come to Mr. Pangburn.”
Ingram said that due to poor vision his driving had been restricted to daylight hours prior to the incident.
Schutte said Monday that Ingram did not have a driver’s license the day of the incident.
“His (Ingram’s) application for a driver’s license had been denied due to his poor vision,” Schutte said. “I don’t think he intended to run over him (Pangburn) but by operating a motor vehicle he needlessly put others at risk.”
The homicide by vehicle charge is a third-degree felony. According to court documents, Ingram faces a charge of involuntary manslaughter, a fourth-degree felony, “in the alternative” should the homicide by vehicle charge not be warranted.
“If the judge feels that he (Ingram) was not reckless, then the judge can say the homicide by vehicle charge is too strong and then Mr. Ingram would be charged with involuntary manslaughter,” Schutte said.
Schutte said the preliminary hearing in the case is still three to four weeks away because out-of-town witnesses have to be called in.