Man found guilty in Fort Gordon soldier traffic death

Friday, Sept. 7, 2012 5:58 PM
Last updated 8:09 PM
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Gerald Wright  SPECIAL
Gerald Wright

Gerald Wright was convicted Friday of drunken driving and fatally striking a motorcyclist who had pulled over on Laney-Walker Boulevard.

In delivering the maximum prison sentence of 15 years, Superior Court Judge James Blanchard said Sgt. 1st Class James “Jay” Gray’s children were robbed of growing up with a father. Gray had joined the Army at age 18 and served a tour in Iraq in 2006.

“He served his country, then he was killed by a drunk driver,” Blanchard said. “They’ll never get to know him.”

Wright was convicted of vehicular homicide and of a lesser offense for failure to render aid, and was acquitted of following too closely. He was fined the maximum $200 for driving with an open container.

Friday’s verdict capped a two-day trial that showed that Wright, 38, of Jackson, began drinking early in the day of May 22, 2011, and shared two pitchers of beer with friends that evening. Gray, who was stationed at Fort Gordon, spent the day riding around Augusta on motorcycles with his friend Torrey Collins.

They were about to turn onto Interstate 520 from East Boundary about 10:45 p.m. when Gray pulled over to remove a bug from his eye. Collins said he saw a Mustang accelerate from the traffic light at East Boundary and head directly for Gray.

The crash, which Collins likened to a bomb explosion, threw the 500-pound motorcycle more than 170 feet. Gray, whose neck was broken and his leg severed, was found dead in the roadside’s tall grass.

In Friday’s closing statements, defense attorney Rodney Que­senberry sought to discredit Collins’ testimony and convince jurors that his client did not know he had hit a person before fleeing his disabled car.

He also questioned the validity of evidence pointing toward Wright’s intoxication and built a case suggesting that Gray stopped in the lane of travel and was responsible for the wreck.

Though the situation is deplorable, “to hold Mr. Wright responsible for homicide is just irrational,” Quesenberry said.

Assistant District Attorney Parks White carefully deconstructed those arguments, methodically going back over the evidence and testimony.

“This is a common-sense case,” White said. “You have all the evidence you need.”

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Fiat_Lux 09/07/12 - 07:25 pm
I guess he deserves a defence

but that last part about the victim being to blame is about as disgusting as it gets. I wouldn't be able to face my family and friends, or even myself, if I lied like that to escape something so richly deserved.

This guy is a total worm.

Tullie 09/08/12 - 04:45 am

I thought the same thing when I read that. I know lawyers do what they can for their clients, but darn that was so uncalled for and low- down dirty.

There was no reason for him to "flee" his disabled car if he didn't think he did something wrong.

tanbaby 09/08/12 - 07:21 am
another senseless death that

another senseless death that could have been avoided by not drinking and driving....

zippy 09/08/12 - 03:34 pm
Everybody calls lawyers

Everybody calls lawyers sleezy but if you were facing allegations of a crime you do not believe you committed you do not want a lawyer who will take it easy for fear that the public will not approve. I would want a fighter not a pushover. In the end if the guy did it and the evidence is argued aggressively then we can all sleep better to know that an innocent man did not go to jail. If you go to trial to be cordial we will never know what the real answer is. I applaud the willingness to be aggressive and I bet most prosecutors and judges do too.

NoHayManera 09/08/12 - 05:41 pm
Backhanded compliment:

Mr. Que­senberry, you are the exact type of lawyer I'd want defending me. As low as you can go, Mr. Que­senberry, as low as you can go.

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