Motorcyclist indicted on murder charge in death of Georgia state trooper

Trooper Jimmy Cenescar was killed Jan. 28 in Gwinnett
Georgia State Patrol Trooper Jimmy Cenescar died on Jan. 28 from injuries sustained in a crash on I-85 in Gwinnett County.

Credit: Georgia Department of Public Safety

Credit: Georgia Department of Public Safety

Georgia State Patrol Trooper Jimmy Cenescar died on Jan. 28 from injuries sustained in a crash on I-85 in Gwinnett County.

The Gwinnett County grand jury has indicted a man for murder after he allegedly fled from a Georgia state trooper who then crashed off I-85 and died, the district attorney said.

Gerson Danilo Ayala-Rodriguez, 21, was formally charged Wednesday, when he was indicted for felony murder, first-degree vehicular homicide, tampering with evidence and three counts of fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer in the Jan. 28 crash that killed Trooper Jimmy Cenescar.

Ayala-Rodriguez is also charged with several misdemeanors, including reckless driving, speeding, two counts each of driving without a license, operating a vehicle without insurance, and operating an unregistered vehicle.

“The important thing to remember is that this defendant’s reckless behavior led to the tragic death of Trooper Jimmy Cenescar,” Gwinnett District Attorney Patsy Austin-Gatson said in an emailed statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “This was inexcusable, and we intend to prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law.”

The crash happened after Cenescar attempted to stop the motorcyclist for a traffic violation on I-85 in Gwinnett, according to state investigators. Instead of stopping, the motorcyclist allegedly drove through two lanes of traffic trying to get away, according to a preliminary crash report released by the Georgia Department of Public Safety.

Gerson Danilo Ayala Rodriguez is being held without bond at the Gwinnett County jail.

Credit: Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office

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Credit: Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office

Ayala-Rodriguez drove the motorcycle in excess of 140 mph while trying to get away from the trooper, investigators said.

Cenescar lost control of his Dodge Charger, which struck a guardrail, hit a DOT sign, traveled down an embankment and hit several trees and large draining rocks before striking a retaining wall, investigators said. He had to be extricated from the wreckage and was taken to Northside Gwinnett Hospital, where he died from his injuries. According to the report, the trooper was wearing his lap and shoulder belt. He was 28.

Five days later, Ayala-Rodriguez was arrested and has remained in the Gwinnett jail, where he is being held without bond.

Cenescar had been employed with the DPS since January 2023 and was a graduate of the 114th trooper school, the agency said. He previously worked for the Atlanta Police Department.

In October 2021, he saved the life of a motorist who crashed and drove off a bridge on Marietta Road and Thomas Street, Atlanta police said after the incident.

A native of Haiti, Cenescar moved with his family to the U.S. as a 4-year-old and was raised in Orlando before the family settled in Paulding County. In addition to his fiancée, he is survived by his parents, sister and four brothers. The family wore ties and corsages of blue at his funeral to honor Cenescar’s devotion to his career.

“Jimmy passed doing what he loved,” said his brother, Joel Cenescar. “His job was what he did.”

Gov. Brian Kemp and numerous law enforcement officers joined grieving friends and loved ones at the service at Mount Paran Church in Atlanta on Feb. 9.

“We consider this a deep loss for our entire state,” Kemp said, “and we are grieving with you.”