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Kennesaw man indicted on felony murder in North Hall crash that killed 2

A Kennesaw man faces four counts of felony murder and six counts of first-degree vehicular homicide from a May crash that killed two people on Ga. 365, according to court documents.

Zachary Darnell Queen, 29, is accused of killing Karen Heath McClure, 65, of McDonough, and Lee Howard Powell, 59, of Demorest, on May 23.

Georgia State Patrol was called to investigate a four-vehicle wreck, though only Powell, the driver of a Toyota Tacoma, and his passenger, McClure, suffered injuries.

Under Georgia law, felony murder is defined as causing a death in the commission of a felony. For Queen’s Oct. 6 indictment, the underlying felonies alleged are aggravated assault and fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer.

The six counts of vehicular homicide against Queen are separate counts related to underlying offenses of reckless driving, driving under the influence-less safe and fleeing or attempting to elude.

Georgia State Patrol said Queen was driving a Honda Accord south on Ga. 365 near Mud Creek Road at a high rate of speed when he attempted to pass Powell’s vehicle on the right shoulder and rammed the Tacoma, causing it to rotate then overturn into the median. 

The indictment notes that Queen allegedly reached a speed of 117 mph on Ga. 365, which has a 65 mph speed limit.

Authorities said Queen was under the combined influence of marijuana, ketamine, haloperidol, an antipsychotic medication, and midazolam, a sedative.

Queen was also accused of fleeing from a trooper who attempted to pull him over.

Georgia State Patrol Post 7’s Deanna Wilson said there was no report available regarding the trooper’s attempted stop. The Times has repeatedly asked the Patrol for details regarding the trooper’s attempted stop of Queen, but no information has been provided. 

Defense attorney Tracy Drake did not return a request for comment Wednesday, Oct. 27.

McClure’s daughter, Barbara Pressley, said McClure and Powell started dating in 2016 and were on their way back from their cabin in Demorest.

McClure, a home health care nurse, met Powell when she started taking care of his mother.

Cecelia Pyles, who has known Powell for decades, said he was “the most fantastic person you would ever want to know.” She would look forward to going to yard and estate sales when she got together with McClure, who Pyles called “the sweetest person.”

Pressley noted that she, her mother, aunt and grandmother are all nurses.

“It’s just been kind of passed down that we like to take care of others and help others in need, and that, I think, brought her fulfillment,” Pressley said.

According to his obituary, Powell had worked as a massage therapist and an inspector for Timber Products. Pressley said Powell “was always telling a joke or laughing” with a good character.

Powell became wheelchair-bound due to hip issues, Pressley said.

“They literally were together all the time,” Pressley said. “They were never apart, because she took care of him.”

Pressley said the families chose to hold the funerals together, as they felt that’s what the couple would have wanted.