GREENFIELD — On his 18th birthday, Timothy Hughes stood before a judge, head bowed, quiet.
Just a week before, the then-17-year-old was behind the wheel of a car that struck and killed a woman riding her bike in rural New Palestine; police say he was drunk. Wednesday, a judge ruled the teen will face his charges in adult court.
It wasn’t Hughes’ first run-in with the law. Three months ago, a substance abuse problem landed him in the Hancock County Probation Department, officials said.
Prosecutor Brent Eaton said the fact Hughes was one week from adulthood at the time of the accident, coupled with his history of substance abuse, amounted to enough evidence to treat him as an adult and hold him responsible for the death of 22-year-old Carla McCloud.
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Hancock Circuit Judge Richard Culver agreed and Wednesday signed a petition waiving Hughes’ case from juvenile probation into adult court. That proceeding was closed to the public; court was then opened for Hughes’ initial hearing in adult court.
Hughes now faces six felony charges and one Class C misdemeanor: reckless homicide; operating while intoxicated causing death; operating with a 0.08 percent or higher blood alcohol level causing death; operating while intoxicated causing serious injury; operating with a 0.08 percent or higher blood alcohol level causing injury; possession of a narcotic drug; and illegal possession of an alcoholic beverage.
McCloud was cycling along County Road 300S around 9 p.m. with her cousin, Amanda Wheeler, 22, of Greenfield, when Hughes’ car struck them. Wheeler was treated at IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis and released days later. McCloud was taken to the hospital but did not survive.
Hughes pleaded not guilty to each of the charges and expressed remorse for his actions when given a chance to address the court Wednesday.
“This is my wake-up call, … taking the life of an innocent person,” Hughes said.
Hughes was driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.28 percent, police said. Investigators have not released any information about how Hughes obtained the alcohol.
Culver set a cash bond at $20,000 before sending Hughes to the Hancock County Jail.
If Hughes posts bail and is released, he will be required to wear a GPS-monitoring device and will have to undergo random drug and alcohol screenings.
Eaton said he was pleased the judge ruled Hughes would be charged as an adult, noting reckless homicide is a serious allegation.
Hughes had two hearings Wednesday: the first, a juvenile proceeding during which Culver heard arguments about the teen’s criminal history and ruled Hughes would be charged as an adult, officials said; the second, an initial hearing informing Hughes of the charges against him.
Last week’s accident was not the first time Hughes had been in trouble, investigators said.
Hughes had been a student at New Palestine High School but left the school and enrolled in an alternative education program. School officials would not say if a behavioral incident forced the teen to leave or confirm the dates of his attendance.
While enrolled at the alternative school, Hughes was caught with alcohol, and his case wound up in juvenile probation in May, said Wayne Addison, the county’s chief probation officer.
At that time, the interaction was somewhat informal, Addison said. Hughes’ parents already were seeking help for their son, and the teen had been enrolled in a counseling program and was seeking treatment.
About a dozen of Hughes’ family members attended the proceedings Wednesday.
David Hughes, his father, said his son had an appointment scheduled for next week to see a psychologist about his addiction issues, and the family has made arrangements for someone to monitor the teen at all times if he is released from jail.
But there were two sets of parents in the courtroom Wednesday. Hours before family members were set to lay Carla McCloud to rest, more than 20 supporters gathered in the courtroom.
Cindy McCloud, Carla McCloud’s mother, addressed the court during the hearing.
“I think he’s on a path of self-destruction,” Cindy McCloud said of the defendant. “He’s been offered help and hasn’t taken it. I think he’s a danger to the community.”
Hughes was still being held in the Hancock County Jail at press time. He returns to court Oct. 15.