Trial Starts for Man Facing Life in Prison After Drugged Driving Rampageby Jana Ritter - Published: 1/04/2017
Today the trial for begins for a California truck driver who went on a driving rampage last May in Berrien County, Michigan. Ronald Jiles, 39, is facing life in prison after leading police on a wild chase on I-94 where he hit other vehicles, ran drivers off the road, nearly ran over a police chief and punched a K9 during his arrest.
The incident occurred on the morning of May 26, 2016, and began in Indiana where Jiles was spotted driving his semi-truck recklessly along the highway swerving in and out of traffic. When he crossed into Michigan, the Michigan State Police picked up the chase and the pursuit continued for several miles as Jiles hit several cars and constructions cones, ran motorists off the road, and nearly ran over Police Chief Shawn Martin of Baroda-Lake Township. During a preliminary hearing last summer, officers from Berrien County Sheriff’s deputies and Baroda-Lake Township gave their testimony of what occurred when they took over the pursuit. One sheriff’s deputy said that as he passed the semi to try to get other cars out of its path, Jiles swerved at him and then came fast from behind, nearly slamming into him. Chief Martin also testified that he had nearly been killed while on the job that day when he was outside of his patrol vehicle placing stop sticks on the highway, in an attempt to end the chase. He said that he saw the semi-truck barreling towards him and that he thought was going to die. Martin said he had no choice but to dive over a cable barrier into the ditch, which caused him to injure his shoulder but ultimately saved his own life.
The chase finally ended after a Commercial Vehicle Enforcement officer shot the truck’s left side drive wheel, causing the tire to shred and the semi to jackknife off the road near Exit 22 on I-94. According to police, they approached him with a police dog and Jiles allegedly assaulted the K-9 officer and then punched the dog several times in the head. Police also said they were forced to subdue him using a Taser and allege that Jiles was under the influence of drugs during the chase. He was found with cocaine, meth, and a firearm in his possession. Jiles is facing several charges that include; assault with intent to murder, possession of a firearm by a felon, carrying a concealed weapon, assaulting/resisting and assaulting police, injuring and harassing a police dog, weapons felony firearms, possession of cocaine, possession of methamphetamine, assault with a dangerous weapon, possession of marijuana, third-degree fleeing police, reckless driving causing serious bodily impairment, second-degree fleeing police and operating while intoxicated causing serious injury.
Interestingly, the juror questioning on Tuesday largely centered around their knowledge of drug abuse and whether they believe someone who commits an alleged crime while drunk or high should still be held accountable for their actions. The trial is taking place in Berrien County in Judge Scott Schofield’s courtroom and is expected to continue through Friday.