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Ralphael Coffey (KCSO)

Ex-ORHS athlete convicted of charges in deadly 2016 Knox County pursuit, crash

Ralpheal Coffey, a former standout athlete at Oak Ridge High School, was acquitted on a charge of second-degree murder, but found guilty by a Knox County jury Wednesday on all other counts connected to a deadly police chase that began in Anderson County and resulted in a fatal collision in a North Knoxville intersection in 2016.

Coffey was convicted by the jury of reckless homicide, rather than the original charge of second-degree murder. The jury also found him guilty of numerous other charges in the case, including a possession with intent to sell cocaine in a drug-free school zone, a Class A felony. 

Because of Coffey’s previous convictions for dealing cocaine, prosecutors say that conviction alone carries a prison sentence of between 25 to 40 years in prison. 

Coffey was fleeing from Sheriff’s deputies in Anderson County on May 25th, 2016, and the pursuit wound its way into Knox County. Coffey’s car crashed into a Ford F-150 pickup truck driven by Kevin Bradley in the intersection of Central Avenue Pike and Callahan Drive in north Knox County.

Bradley died in the crash, while his passenger was injured.

Tommie Troupe, the passenger in Coffey’s vehicle, died from his injuries a couple of days after the crash.

Authorities say that Coffey was the first person charged with second-degree murder as the result of a crash in Tennessee since 1989, stating that Coffey understood the dangers associated with fleeing from police. His defense attorneys claimed he was afraid the police would kill him.

Among the other charges the jury convicted Coffey of include two charges of evading arrest with risk of death or injury in a vehicle and one count of aggravated assault with a vehicle, as well as other traffic-related violations.

Coffey will be sentenced in Knox County next month.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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