judge rejects charge against Georgian lawmaker for hit and run | Taiwan News

ATLANTA (AP) – A judge on Tuesday dismissed a charge against a Georgia state lawmaker, saying his inability to call 911 when a friend called him about a deadly wreck was not a crime.

Polk County Superior Court Judge Stephen Schuster ruled that Rep. Trey Kelley could not be charged with reckless driving because prosecutors had failed to claim the Cedartown Republican had committed an under- felony. jacent.

“No reading of the hit-and-run law or the reckless driving law leaves a reasonable person with the impression that a disinterested third party, absent for a car accident, who later learns of the alleged accident is legally required under the Reckless Driving Act to immediately contact 911, ”Schuster wrote.

Ralph “Ryan” Dover III hit Eric Keais on September 13, 2019 in Cedartown with his SUV. Instead of calling 911, he called his friend, Kelley, officials said. Kelley in turn called Cedartown Police Chief Jamie Newsome at his home, authorities said. An officer was dispatched to the area, unaware that someone may have been injured, and eventually found Keais lying in a ditch, seriously injured. Keais died of his injuries soon after.

Kelley, who represents all of Polk and parts of Floyd and Haralson counties, was indicted last year on a charge of reckless driving, alleging he did not falsely report the accident. Dover was charged with hit and run and reckless driving.

Schuster said prosecutors inadmissibly extend the law to create a “judicially engineered crime” by combining certain elements of the hit-and-run law, even though Kelley was not charged with the offense, with the reckless driving.

“The hit and run law does not apply to Kelley because he was not the driver of the vehicle involved in the accident, in the vehicle or at the scene at the time of the accident,” wrote Schuster. “The law does not impose any obligation on Kelley must contact law enforcement.

The charges against Dover are still valid. There is also a federal lawsuit filed by Eric Keais’ father, Manfred Keais, seeking damages from Dover, Kelley, Newsome and the town of Cedartown. The defendants deny any wrongdoing and are currently trying to have the case closed.

Kelley’s attorney, Lester Tate, said in a statement that the ruling is “a long-awaited justification that Trey Kelley did nothing wrong.”

“We would first like to, once again, offer our condolences and prayers to the family and friends of Eric Keais who tragically lost his life in September 2019,” Tate said. “But we have always said and always believed that Representative Kelley did not break any laws that night. He was not in the car when Mr Keais was involved in the accident and did not know what had happened. was shot when he arrived at the scene.

Kelley resigned as House Majority Whip this year after being indicted and his wife filing for divorce.

A lawyer for Manfred Keais did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

___

Follow Jeff Amy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jeffamy.

Janice J. Kostka