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Driver in fatal crash remains in jail under $200,000 bond

The driver in a crash that resulted in the death of a 17-year-old East Henderson High School senior in December remains in jail two weeks after his arrest on a charge of second-degree murder.

Matthew Joseph Schmieder, 36, of Hendersonville, was arrested May 16, one day after a grand jury issued an indictment on the second-degree murder charge in the high-speed crash that killed Derek Lane Miller on Kanuga Road three days before Christmas. Judge Athena Brooks set a $200,000 bond during a first appearance in Henderson County District Court on Thursday morning and as of Tuesday morning the accused had not been able to make bail.
Schmieder, who initially had hired criminal defense attorney Roy Neill, was rolled into the courtroom in a wheelchair. In an affidavit of indigency, he declared that he had living expenses of $545 a month and assets of $3,600, including $600 cash and a 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee worth $3,000. Judge Brooks appointed assistant public defender Beth Stang to represent him.
The State Highway Patrol said Schmieder was driving 60 mph when he attempted to pass a vehicle on a double-yellow line and collided head-on with a 1991 Chevrolet pickup driven by Miller, who died as a result of the crash. Schmieder was airlifted to Mission hospital in Asheville and hospitalized for four weeks with multiple injuries.
Schmieder, an accountant, was not charged with driving under the influence or driving with a suspended license and his blood alcohol level has not been made public. But District Attorney Greg Newman told Judge Brooks that alcohol, marijuana and tranquilizers were a factor in the fatal crash.
“All of those issues are going to be included in the second-degree murder case,” Newman told the Hendersonville Lightning the day before Schmieder’s District Court appearance. “When I first took the initial call it occurred to me and to the state trooper that there may be a criminal case, it may be more than a traffic case going bad with an unfortunate fatality. I asked the SBI. they were the actually the ones that did the investigation along with the State Patrol.”
There are “a number of different components to the evidence,” Newman said. “We charge what we can support. This is a criminal case and we’re going to treat it that way.”
Schmieder had numerous speeding tickets and other traffic violations since age 17, according to a search of public records by the Lightning last January. The search turned up a total of 15 traffic violations or cases resulting from moving violations such as failure to appear in court or failure to pay fines from 1998 to last November.
He was stopped for driving 80 mph in a 50 mph zone and failing to stop for a siren and flashing lights in Henderson County January 1980. He received eight more speeding tickets from that time until 2013, according to court and Division of Motor Vehicles records. He was also caught driving 84 mph in a 65 mph zone in 2013 in Rutherford County. In 2005, a Laurel Park police officer charged him with possessing a half-ounce of marijuana after a traffic stop, records show.
Troopers investigating the crash said they suspected Schmieder was under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the crash, which occurred at 8 o’clock at night on Kanuga Road a few hundred yards from Schmieder’s apartment on Maxine Lane.