A man suspected of killing a New Orleans Police Department dispatcher during a head-on collision on Interstate 610 this month had a blood-alcohol level three times higher than the legal limit, according to court documents.
Andrew Merchant, 28, of Metairie, was booked Friday with vehicular homicide in connection with the death of Paulette Brown. A blood sample found his blood-alcohol content was 0.25 when the crash happened, according to documents filed at Orleans Parish Criminal District Court. The legal limit is 0.08 percent.
Brown, 51, was headed west on Interstate 610 about 10:30 p.m. Sept. 7 in her Toyota Camry on her way to work.
Merchant, who was driving his 2013 Jeep Wrangler the wrong way on the interstate, hit Brown head-on and struck at least one other vehicle near St. Bernard Avenue, court documents said.
Brown, who was with the NOPD for 32 years, was rushed to Interim LSU Public Hospital with several broken bones and internal injuries.
She was placed on life support the next day and remained in that state until her organs could be harvested. The New Orleans East woman was buried Sept. 16.
Merchant, who appeared to be drunk at the time of the accident, was booked with DWI, reckless operation of a motor vehicle and violation of one-way traffic. He was released on $7,000 bail after the arrest but was rearrested when the blood-alcohol test showed he was legally drunk at the time of the collision.
Merchant has no previous arrests for driving while intoxicated, according to a search of court records. He remained jailed Tuesday. His bond is set at $50,000.
Vehicular homicide carries a prison sentence of between five and 30 years upon conviction.