Grand jury to get deadly hit-and-run case

Provost

The criminal case against a Heph­zibah man accused of vehicular homicide in the death of a bicyclist will go to the grand jury, a judge ruled Thursday.

At a preliminary hearing in Richmond Coun­ty Civil Court, Chief Judge William D. Jen­nings III found probable cause was established to support felony charges of vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident against Christopher Provost, 35.

For the second time in two weeks, a request for bond for Provost was denied.

Richmond County sheriff’s Deputy Russell Schaffer testified about the early morning call to Mike Padgett Highway near Tobacco Road, where 42-year-old Dennis Skillman was killed May 15.

The first thing Schaffer saw was a rear bicycle tire in the right lane folded nearly in half, like a taco shell, he said.

Officers found red paint chips and pieces of a headlight that Schaffer identified as coming from a Dodge pickup, like the one he owns. Officers interviewed an eyewitness who said he was traveling in front of a white-over-red Dodge pickup about 6:30 a.m. when he saw the Dodge veer off the road. The witness had picked up his phone to report an unsafe driver when he saw the pickup veer to the right again, toward a man on a bicycle.

Skillman was dressed in a dark blue, workman-type uniform and wearing a reflective vest, Schaffer said, and was riding on the proper portion of the street.

Officers compiled a list of Richmond County residents with registered red-and-white Dodge pickups and started knocking on doors. At Provost’s home, officers were told he had been home that morning with blood on his pickup that he said came from a deer he hit, Schaffer said. When contacted by phone, Provost said the truck had been towed after it broke down.

However, Schaffer testified, after an officer noticed vehicle parts at Provost’s home, a search warrant was obtained. When officers went to execute the warrant, Provost was in his backyard workshop with the truck, the front of which had been sanded down and taped in preparation of painting, he said.

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