A former Georgia state trooper accused of causing a 2015 crash that killed two teenagers in Carroll County is now on trial, and his defense attorney contends it was the teen driver — and alcohol — that led to the crash.
Opening statements were delivered today in the trial of Anthony James “A.J.” Scott, who faces charges including vehicular homicide, violating oath of office, speeding and reckless driving.
Scott was driving 90 mph in a 55-mph zone seconds before the crash, but he tried to slow down before impact, according to investigators. Scott, who was fired days later from the state patrol, was not on an emergency call and was not trying to stop a vehicle at the time, Mark Perry of the Georgia Department of Public Safety previously said.
Scott, then 26, was northbound on U.S. 27 when he struck a 2005 Nissan Sentra attempting a left turn onto Holly Springs Road, investigators said. The posted speed limit in the area is 55 mph. Four teenagers were inside the Nissan.
Kylie Lindsey, 17, and Isabella Chinchilla, 16, seated in the backseat of the Nissan, died from their injuries. Both were students at South Paulding High School. Two others — Dillon Lewis Wall, then 18, and Benjamin Alan Finken, then 17, both of Douglasville — were injured and taken to Grady Memorial Hospital. Both Wall and Finken survived.
Scott, a former Marine who became a trooper in 2012, did not have emergency lights on at the time of the crash, according to investigators. He was treated and released from Tanner Medical Center in Carrollton.
Two months after the crash, Scott won a seat on the Buchanan City Council in Haralson County. He still holds the position.
In February 2016, the case was presented to a grand jury, which declined to indict Scott. He was the final witness before the grand jury because Georgia law granted that privilege to law enforcement officers, former Carroll County District Attorney Pete Skandalakis said at the time. Family and friends of the teenagers held a rally outside the Carroll courthouse to decry the grand jury’s decision.
In November 2016, the case was presented to a different grand jury, which indicted Scott on misdemeanor charges of speeding and reckless driving. However, a judge later threw out the indictment, which the DA’s office appealed.
In August 2017, Scott was indicted on two counts of vehicular homicide in the second degree, two counts of serious injury by vehicle, violating oath of office and one count each of speeding and reckless driving. These charges were upheld.
In his opening statements Wednesday, Scott’s attorney, Mac Pilgrim, said the crash was not Scott’s fault. Pilgrim said the teenagers had alcohol, which he argued may have factored in the crash, along with a young driver.
Jury selection took place Monday and Tuesday, and the trial's testimony phase is expected to last about a week. It is not yet known whether Scott will testify.
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