Police: Driver was traveling 144 mph seconds before fatal Montgomery crash

Police: Driver was traveling 144 mph seconds before fatal Montgomery crash
The front half of the Perkins' sedan. (Source: Matt Waite)
The front half of the Perkins' sedan. (Source: Matt Waite)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A preliminary hearing for the reckless murder suspect in a fatal East Montgomery crash revealed excessive speed was a factor. Ladarious Laffitte appeared before Judge Troy Massey with his defense attorney, Richard White, for Friday's hearing.

A Montgomery Police Officer testified that crash data from the suspect's car, a Dodge Challenger with a Scat Pack or larger engine, revealed the defendant was driving 144 miles per hour just 1.5 seconds before the crash in the late hours of Saturday, May 14.

The car slowed to 106 miles per hour just half a second before impact.

The data from the car is comparable to a black box from an airplane.

The officer said Laffitte's blood alcohol level was .04 four hours after the crash, and they located empty alcohol bottles in the defendant's car.

The deceased victim, Ashley Perkins, was in the back passenger seat of her family's 2007 Lexus ES 350 as it was turning left into the Mapco Gas Station on Vaughn Road. That's when Laffitte's Challenger slammed into the side of the sedan with such violent force that it split the car in half.

Perkins, a 27-year-old mother of two, was pronounced dead on the scene.

The officer testified a person from a nearby store walked over to check on Laffitte after the crash while he was still in his car.  According to the officer, Laffitte said, "I didn't want anything bad to happen, I was racing". The bystander gave that statement to police the night of the crash.

The victim's family believes Laffitte was street racing another car the night of the fatal crash, but Montgomery Police have not substantiated that claim. During the hearing, the officer revealed another driver in a white Camaro was interviewed but stated they were not racing.

White worked to discredit the crash data, acknowledging his team was also running diagnostic tests on the car.

"I'm not saying we agree he was going 144 [miles per hour]," White stated. "We have hired our own experts."

Prosecutor Ben McGough asked Judge Massey to revoke Laffitte's driver's license, reading a lengthy list of traffic and speeding citations – some dating back 10 years. The defense said they were blindsided by this oral motion and hadn't been given time to prepare arguments.

The judge asked both the state to file the motion and the defense to respond. Massey will rule on the motion to revoke Laffitte's license and determine whether there's enough probable cause to bind the case over to a grand jury next week.

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