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Trial on death of friend of Jack Whittakers daughter

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November 16, 2005
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Posted: March 23, 2007, 2:44 pm - IP Logged

Witness says Whittaker's granddaughter did drugs in his office


Two former employees of Jack Whittaker's construction company told a jury Thursday that his granddaughter frequently came into his St. Albans office to collect her large daily allowance, and that she was often intoxicated or high from doing drugs.

Whittaker has been accused of negligence in the death of 18-year-old Jesse Tribble, who was found dead of a drug overdose in Whittaker's Scott Depot home.

Tribble's father, James, has filed a lawsuit against the Powerball winner.

Tribble's attorneys now are trying to make the case that Whittaker was negligent by failing to supervise his granddaughter, Brandi Bragg, while still giving her huge sums of money that she used to buy drugs for her friends, including Jesse Tribble.

Bragg also died of a drug overdose just months after Tribble's death.

Whittaker's former office manager, Brenda Collins, said she once watched the teenager on a security camera monitor go into Whittakers office and snort drugs.

"Lots of times it seemed she was intoxicated," Collins said. "She did not have control of her faculties. Once she went in Jack's office and you could see her go through the motions of putting something on the desk and putting her nose to it."

Collins said Whittaker gave his granddaughter, who was under his guardianship, $300 a day.

Whittaker, who owns a construction company, won a record $314.9 lottery jackpot in December 2002.

After that, witnesses said he showered Bragg with almost unlimited amounts of money.

On Fridays, she was given $900.

A witness and one of Whittaker's former employee also said in court this week the 17-year-old girl was handed thousands of dollars for shopping sprees and was given $5,000 to spend at an Atlantic City casino. The witness said she used part of that money to buy heroin.

Linda Collins, a receptionist at Whittaker's construction company, told jurors Bragg often showed up with friends to get a check.

She also said that when Whittaker heard the news Jesse Tribble had died in his home, his response was "matter of fact." Collins said Whittaker made the statement, "Seasoned addicts cannot keep up with Brandi."

Brenda Collins, the office manager, also testified that Whittaker was aware Brandi was using drugs, but that he became "hot-headed" when anyone tried to discuss it with him.

"He knew she was on drugs," Collins said. "He sent her to rehab twice."

Brenda Collins said Brandi brought Tribble with her to the construction office two days before his death. She said she wrote Tribble a check for $500. On the memo line of the check, Collins wrote "mileage, Brandi."

Collins said she sometimes wrote checks made out to Brandi's friends because the girl would come to collect several days' allowance at one time and she found that the local grocery store where she tried to cash them would not cash a check for more than $500.

Tribble's attorney, Thomas Peyton, said earlier in court this week that Whittaker's allowance to Brandi was "excessive" and said she used it to buy drugs for herself and her friends, including Jesse Tribble.

Deputy David Bailey of the Putnam County Sheriff's Department said he was hired to provide private security at Whittaker's Scott Depot home after he won the lottery and he and his wife had been threatened.

Bailey said he overheard a phone conversation between Bragg and another person that he interpreted as a drug deal. He said he found 13 packages of marijuana in a nightstand in a bedroom that was being used by one of Bragg's friends.

Bailey said he quit working for Whittaker after that incident.

Whittaker's attorney, James Lamp, has told jurors that Tribble had a history of drug use that began when he was 12 years old, and that the young man was responsible for his own actions when he used the drugs that killed him.

Lamp's defense will be heard next week, when the proceedings before Putnam Circuit Judge O.C. Spaulding are expected to conclude.