Man booked on fourth DWI also faces vehicular homicide charge

Zachary police arrested a 31-year-old man Sunday on a fourth-offense DWI count, less than six months after he was accused of driving while intoxicated when his pickup crashed head-on into a car and killed the car’s driver, East Baton Rouge Parish Prison records show.

Matthew Harding, 18179 Pride-Baywood Road, Pride, was booked after Zachary police found him passed out in his truck in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart at 5801 Main St. around 11 p.m. Saturday, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

Harding’s bail in the July 11 fatal crash was set at $100,000, according to court documents. Harding’s parents bonded their son out by posting a property bond.

District Attorney Hillar Moore III said his office will file a motion to have Harding’s bond revoked.

In Harding’s recent arrest, his white Chevrolet truck crashed into a Plymouth Neon in the Wal-Mart parking lot, the affidavit says.

After police woke him up, Harding told the officers he had been drinking and could not remember where he had been prior to passing out in his truck, the affidavit says.

Officers could not smell alcohol on Harding but noticed that he appeared to be “quite intoxicated,” the affidavit says.

Harding performed poorly on a field sobriety test but provided a breath sample that showed no alcohol in his system, the affidavit says.

Despite the negative breath sample, officers booked Harding with a DWI because other evidence at the scene indicated Harding was impaired, Zachary Police Chief David McDavid said.

Officers also took a urine sample and sent it to the State Police Crime Lab for analysis, McDavid said.

According to court documents, Harding had amphetamines and a marijuana metabolite in his system July 11 when his 2006 GMC crossed the center line of Liberty Road and hit an oncoming 2005 Toyota Corolla driven by Nancy Pierce, 48, of Clinton.

A marijuana metabolite is a form of the drug after it has been absorbed and processed through the body.

Pierce was pronounced dead at the scene, the affidavit says. Harding was not injured.

Harding’s breath sample showed no alcohol in his system, but a urine sample analysis detected the amphetamines and marijuana metabolite, an affidavit of probable cause says.

After the July 11 fatal accident, Harding was booked into Parish Prison on one count each of vehicular homicide, third-offense DWI, reckless operation of a vehicle, driving left of center, aggravated obstruction of a highway and no seat belt.

One of Harding’s previous DWI arrests occurred on July 10, 2003, in East Baton Rouge Parish near Nicholson Drive and Bob Pettit Boulevard, an affidavit of probable cause says.

A sheriff’s deputy who pulled Harding over noticed Harding was swaying side to side and had bloodshot eyes when he got out of his vehicle, the affidavit says.

Harding, whose breath smelled strongly of alcohol, refused to perform any field sobriety tests or provide a breath sample, the affidavit says.

Moore said Harding was arrested on second-offense DWI but later had it reduced to a first-offense DWI and was found not guilty. Moore said he had no further information about the case.

Harding’s other DWI arrest occurred in March 2, 2003. Details of that arrest were not available.

Harding has a litany of other traffic-related arrests dating to 1999, Clerk of Court’s Office records show. The charges range from speeding to driving with a suspended license.

He was arrested Jan. 12, 2011, and accused of running into six mailboxes, driving through three lawns and hitting three street signs on Durmast Drive, Wax Road, Roanoke Drive and Jenson Drive, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

Harding told deputies he had been drinking at a bar that night and ran away from the scene because he felt embarrassed, the affidavit says. He was booked on 12 counts of simple criminal damage to property, court records show.

The charges were dismissed after he paid restitution and court costs, Moore said.