Guilty verdict in deputy hit & run trial
It's a guilty verdict for three people accused of hitting a Washington County Tennessee Sheriff's Deputy during a police chase.
The jury foreman read the verdict this evening just before 6:00 in a courtroom filled with more than 20 law enforcement officers showing their support for the injured deputy.
News 5 WCYB has been covering the trial, which began on Monday, and we talked with both sides after the verdict was read.
After four hours of deliberation, a jury returned guilty verdicts for all three defendants in the case. Gene Wishon, a member of the jury says, "We really tried, you know, to be as fair as we could. The attorneys were great for both sides."
The jury found Dalvin Stephens, Reginald Dewayne Smith, and Ashley Nicole McGraw guilty of attempted aggravated robbery and reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon; that’s a lesser charge than the attempted first degree murder charge District Attorney Tony Clark had hoped for, which could result in lesser sentences. He tells us, "I felt that the least punishment received or the least sentence handed down was for the most serious offense, and that was for him getting hit while he was doing his job."
Wishon describes what the jury did to reach the decision of a lesser charge, "The law books we read here from the evidence of the testimony that we had, it didn't add up to that."
Overall both sides-say they're satisfied with the decision of the jury.
Defense Attorney Jerry Fabus says, "The fact that the jury came back and with what - in my opinion, was the right verdict from the get go on this - with the reckless endangerment, we're satisfied with that. We think it was a fair verdict.”
Defense Attorney Gene Scott adds, "From my standpoint, in the video it appeared to me they did not try to hit the officer that they were trying to go around him. That was our argument to the jury and the jury accepted that.”
But the one person's opinion that may matter most, is the man at the center of this trial, Deputy Gary Daugherty, whose injuries were so severe, he had to sit out of work for more than a year, after getting hit by the defendants' car. He tells News 5, "I’m completely satisfied. You know, I’ve had the opportunity in the military to live in different places around the world and see what their justice systems are like, and I know by far we have the best justice system anywhere." And it's a system Daugherty hopes to be a part of for years to come.
Sentencing is set for June 10, 2013. A defense attorney tells us the charges carry 3-14 years in prison.
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