Man gets 12 months in fatality

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Marshall Jordan Jr. faced as many as 10 years in prison on first-degree vehicular homicide charges, mainly because he had traces of marijuana in his system when a speeding, off-duty sheriff's deputy slammed into his logging trailer on Halloween night 2005.

A Burke County jury rejected that charge Tuesday, convicting Mr. Jordan of a second-degree offense because his truck was taking up all three lanes of traffic on the pitch-dark, rural highway and, as Assistant District Attorney Hank Syms said, Shane Ray Hamilton "never had a chance that night."

"It doesn't matter how fast he was going, because he couldn't see it," Mr. Syms told the jury.

Superior Court Judge Duncan Wheale sentenced Mr. Jordan to a year in the Burke County jail, the maximum allowed for a misdemeanor. He could be out earlier for good behavior.

Mr. Hamilton, 31, had been a Richmond County Sheriff's Office road patrol deputy for a year and a half, according to his brother, Jason Hamilton. He was returning home that night along River Road, or Georgia Highway 56 Spur, in northern Burke County when he hit the logging truck on a straightaway about a third of a mile past Millers Pond Road.

Though his speedometer was found stopped at 103 mph, a Georgia State Patrol collision reconstruction expert testified that the deputy was more likely going 65 to 68 miles per hour in the 55 mph zone.

Mr. Hamilton left no skid marks, and examination of brake lights showed he never slowed, state patrol Cpl. Tommy Barron Jr. said. His Toyota Echo wedged under the log trailer and partially emerged on the other side.

The prosecution against Mr. Jordan was notable because it hinged on marijuana use by Mr. Jordan, even though there was little evidence he was intoxicated at the time of the wreck. Marijuana can linger in the body for two to three days for light users, or as long as a month for heavy users.

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled in 1999, in Love vs. the State of Georgia, that use of drugs alone isn't enough to lodge a DUI charge, and first-degree vehicular homicide usually involves an impaired driver. The prosecution, however, asserted that a cloudy head made Mr. Jordan less safe on the road.

A log truck driver for 15 years, Mr. Jordan, 56, was ending his work day after delivering a load to International Paper. After taking a co-worker home, he approached his house from a different direction and had to make a difficult right turn into his driveway.

Mr. Jordan testified that he scraped a utility pole near his mailboxes, so he backed up and tried again. The maneuver had the rusty-colored trailer -- whose reflective markers and tapes were within state guidelines -- blocking the highway. After the fatal crash, a white pickup also hit the trailer, but the driver braked in time to avoid injury.

Mr. Jordan said under oath that he hasn't used marijuana since his 20s. His defense attorney said before sentencing that Mr. Jordan might have inhaled second-hand smoke at a club the weekend before the wreck.

Jason Hamilton, 30, said he wasn't happy with the 12-month sentence, considering his niece, 12, will grow up without a father.

"He should have got more," he said.

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or johnny.edwards@augustachronicle.com.

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GnipGnop
12196
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GnipGnop 02/13/08 - 03:26 am
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While I am sorry for the

While I am sorry for the man's loss of life it seems the truck driver got a raw deal for a accident. Without skid marks it's a guess how fast he was going. Sounds like a dark road and speed were more involved. If his trailer was marked with the proper state required reflectors this sounds more like a case of the police going after this guy because the man killed was a deputy. I feel bad that the man died but as a deputy he should have been aware that speeding causes wrecks. I'm just curious if this were Joe Blow if we would have seen the same result.

jrbfromga
433
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jrbfromga 02/13/08 - 07:07 am
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If it didn't involve a cop,
Unpublished

If it didn't involve a cop, he would have walked with probation.

mew1218
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mew1218 02/13/08 - 07:40 am
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Sorry about the death but I

Sorry about the death but I do believe that if he where not a police officer he would have received probation. Everyone is not treated equal..

pofwe
5
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pofwe 02/13/08 - 07:42 am
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The investigators overlook &

The investigators overlook & even change the apparent speed from 103 mph to 60/65 mph. Yet, they prosecute Mr. Jordan for a trace of pot. How much of a trace? They lower the cop's responsibility & enhance the civilian's cupability. What a country. If Mr. Jordan had resources this case would not have been prosecuted.

saywhat
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saywhat 02/13/08 - 07:50 am
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103???? Wonder what he had in

103???? Wonder what he had in his system?

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
7621
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ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 02/13/08 - 07:52 am
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Having some experience with

Having some experience with accident reconstruction I can tell that each of you so far are speaking from a part of your bodies that we'd rather not hear from. The speed of 60/65 was correct,
because if the speed had been higher it would have sheared off the top of the vehicle and it would have emerged from the other side of the trailer. Also, it was learned from people living in the area that the trailer was blocking the road for 15 minutes prior to the accident. Pot doesn't get into your system to be identifiable from second hand smoke! The man was not only wrong but negligent too. As to the deputy speeding how many of you drive the speed limit on the way home from work when you get out of traffic and onto an open road?

full moon
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full moon 02/13/08 - 08:06 am
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What a country we work for

What a country we work for always looking to screw the small hard working person and let the law do as they please. Sorry the officier is dead but please show some mercy for the others at speeds of 103 you want have long to react where if at 60/65 you would at least see what you hit. RIP

SilentJ
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SilentJ 02/13/08 - 08:13 am
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I travel 56 a lot in the dark

I travel 56 a lot in the dark was the officer driving without headlights on??I don't know about you but I can see a pretty good distance down the road with my headlights on even if it is pitch dark out but then again I am not going 100 miles an hour If he was doing 60/65 he should have been able to see something in time to apply the breaks.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
7621
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ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 02/13/08 - 08:26 am
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I see today is filled with

I see today is filled with people ASSuming they know something!
Look at 6:52. also the trailer was angled across the roadway so that the reflectors were almost invisible, and get real people how many pulpwood trucks have you seen in any repair but a shambles? I am very familiar with the area the wreck happened and it's just lucky there weren't a lot more vehicles involved.

THINKABOUTIT
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THINKABOUTIT 02/13/08 - 08:32 am
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First of all let me say it

First of all let me say it wasn't second hand smoke that registered thats just a farce. On the same hand it wasnt pot that caused this wreck in any way shape or fashion. He was just trying to park his truck and because he had a trace of marijuana in his system they are giving him 12 months. What a joke our court system have become. My heart goes out to the officer but my heart goes out to this truck driver even more so. Just to reitereate one man is parking his rig the other speeding and running into the side of his truck that was properly flagged but yet the truck driver is getting the jail time for marijuana in his system but not being on anything at the time it occured something is fishy here.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
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ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 02/13/08 - 08:40 am
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So parking a pulpwood truck

So parking a pulpwood truck across a dark roadway is not Illegal, thinkaboutit. I'm staying out of your neighborhood. I'll bet you think it's ok to test message while driving too. That's text message!

tdp
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tdp 02/13/08 - 09:14 am
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The drivers of these large

The drivers of these large trucks have a responsibility to operate them safely. Blocking all three lanes of the highway is not safe. I think his sentence is more than fair considering the cop's sentence for going a mere 10 miles over the limit was death!

SilentJ
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SilentJ 02/13/08 - 09:17 am
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Does anyone really know all

Does anyone really know all of the "True" facts here in this case?

GnipGnop
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GnipGnop 02/13/08 - 09:33 am
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Well I can tell the ones that

Well I can tell the ones that are commenting about second hand marijuana smoke you are wrong. The company that I work for uses the same D.O.T drug test and it will register second hand marijuana smoke. It is the most sensitive drug test given.

Edward1968
578
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Edward1968 02/13/08 - 09:36 am
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ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts, who do

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts, who do you think you're fooling? Your comments about shearing of the top and second-hand marijuana smoke are totally irresponsible. Your post shows you have NO experience in accident scene analysis. SilentJ makes a great comment/question about knowing the "true" facts. There is no way anyone on this message board can come up with any viable conclusions unless they "KNOW" all the facts.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 02/13/08 - 09:47 am
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No one wins in this situation

No one wins in this situation and I feel for Mr. Jordan but we have to remember, a man has lost his life, a daughter has lost her father. If Mr. Jordan was having difficulting turning into his driveway and admitted to backing up and trying again, maybe he should have backed up, went down the road and turned into the driveway from his normal route home. Mr. Hamilton may have been exceeding the speed limit, and just because the speedometer was stuck on 103 doesn't actually mean he was going that fast (ask any traffic investigator). As for the logging truck having the correct reflectors, come on people, these trucks are hard to see during the day much less on a dark stretch of road and most time the reflectors are so dim the are useless. It's an unfortunate mistake and hindsight is 20/20 but Mr. Jordan could be spending 10 years in prison instead of a year.

nurse1
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nurse1 02/13/08 - 09:48 am
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ColdBeer-sounds like you had

ColdBeer-sounds like you had one too many this morning! You are missing the point everyone is making. I agree that the truck driver should not have been blocking the road. But he was trying to park a very large truck at his home. He wasn't just parked in the road taking a break. The police officer was (1) OFF-DUTY--he wasn't responding to a crime or accident (he was in his own personal car), and (2) SPEEDING. Now I question how they figure he was only going 10 miles over the speed limit. His speedometer showed 103 mph. What happened, did it just jump to this number after the accident? I feel for the family of the officer, but don't blame the truck driver for the officer's negligence. Remember, he could have very well killed someone else with the speed he was going.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
7621
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ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 02/13/08 - 10:01 am
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REread the article, and yes I

REread the article, and yes I do have firsthand knowledge of the accident as well as the officers who investigated it. The truck was stopped across a two lane road, the driver was in his house,
and having done accident reconstruction and knowing the Troopers, not Deputies who investigated the accident I do know all the facts. Also there was another vehicle involved who was only alerted to the accident due to the fact of the reflection from the tail light lens of the deputies car which allowed him to react quickly enough to save further injury. If you will investigate before making your assumptions just as the Chronicle has done you will find that upon impact gages such as speedometer can and usually will be altered and are not seriously considered for reliability, other factors are taken into account.

WHATDIDIDO
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WHATDIDIDO 02/13/08 - 10:06 am
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could of

could of

GnipGnop
12196
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GnipGnop 02/13/08 - 10:12 am
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Well as someone who has been

Well as someone who has been a driver for 30 years. The article states that it is a straight stretch of road and the fact that he didn't brake at all tells me he was traveling way faster than what is being said. Accident reconstructionists are not Gods. They weren't at the scene when the wreck happened and can only make logical guesses.Like I said before it was a pure accident and to put the driver in jail is just vindictive because it was a deputy killed. As to the comment about driving the speed limit on my way home if I exceed the speed limit I can expect to be pulled over. How many deputies exceed it and their buddies let them drive right on by. Better yet how many have seen deputies flash their lights to go through a red light and then turn into a hamburger joint. I know they do a thankless job but they are not above the law.

mgr
0
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mgr 02/13/08 - 10:31 am
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It sounds like the system is

It sounds like the system is fishing for a conviction. It is a tradgedy that this deputy lost his life, but too say that a small trace amount of pot was the culprit, I don't think so. This guy could have smoked pot a few days prior to the accident and it would have had nothing to do with this accident. In reality he could have gotten stone cold drunk two days prior and still felt those effects much more than the pot. I'm not an expert by any means, but that is the problem I see with the drug testing for pot. It shows up weeks later when in no way are you impaired by it. As with alcohol there needs to be a way of detecting pot accurately and have that test showing if you are under the influence at that time. If anything the driver didn't use his head wisely in leaving the truck in a dangerous position, but to say it was from pot that they have no idea when it could have been consumed is just a scape goat for the system.

everwonderwhy
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everwonderwhy 02/13/08 - 10:33 am
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I agree with CBBP. Have you

I agree with CBBP. Have you ever been driving and run up on a car with no tail lights? It's very frightening and you're right on their bumper before you know it. It would be the same thing running up on the side of a tractor trailer. All you see in front of you is darkness. This is very sad for all parties involved. What in the world was the tractor trailer driver doing inside his house? I don't think all of the facts are known.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
7621
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ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 02/13/08 - 10:36 am
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wyldsfam I have to agree

wyldsfam I have to agree with you there but there is a science and not just a logical guess to figuring out the speed of a vehicle from the damage on it. That is part of all the crash testing of vehicles is for. No they are not Gods but they usually have several years of experience and hundreds of hours of training in their field. I doubt you have that education and training and are making what you consider to be a logical guess. Currently I work near where that accident occured and can tell you that it is only the luck of timing that this did not involve several fatalities. I also have seen the truck that was involved with this and yes it did have the state required reflective stickers on it, but they were covered with mud, remember it was a pulpwood truck. Now think about your own encounters with pulpwood trucks.

Coach Lover
0
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Coach Lover 02/13/08 - 10:40 am
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I'll be the first to say that

I'll be the first to say that I don't know all of the facts in the case. I feel badly for the deputy that lost his life. My husband drives a truck, and was involved in a fatal accident. He was not charged because he was not negligent. This truck driver should not have had the entire road blocked, so he should bear some responsibility in the accident. I think that 1 year is fair, 10 would have been excessive. For the record, I have never seen a Toyota Echo that was capable of running at 103 MPH.

GnipGnop
12196
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GnipGnop 02/13/08 - 11:08 am
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CBBP i understand what you

CBBP i understand what you are saying but I have also sat on trials where "experts" have testified. Don't you think being that this was a deputy there could be just a slight amount of swaying there. I would have been more comfortable with the outcome if an independent group not related to the law enforcement side did the reconstruction. Also I would like to applaud you for your well thought out and passionate arguments. It's nice to have a disagreement on here with a logical discussion and not have 2 people calling each other idiots and racists. So while we may disagree on the facts and outcomes I think we would both agree that this was an avoidable tragedy.

swolf612000
3
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swolf612000 02/13/08 - 11:11 am
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CBBP, just to back you up, I

CBBP, just to back you up, I asked an officer I work with, then googled "accident reconstruction". According to the officer, along with all 10 of the accident reconstruction sites I read, where the gauge ends up is irrelevant, as the forces of the crash can change the speed reading (either higher or lower). What they look for is the "needle slap", or the mark the needle makes at the moment of impact. So, while the gauge at initial glance may read 103, looking at it under high intensity illumination can show the "needle slap" at a lower speed.

CHATTYCAT
0
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CHATTYCAT 02/13/08 - 11:11 am
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truck drivers should not be

truck drivers should not be allowed to drive the trucks home at all. simply because most folks don't have room to park them.

pfft
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pfft 02/13/08 - 11:29 am
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Regardless even if the speed

Regardless even if the speed was 65 or 68 like the investigator stated he was still speeding. SPEEDING is speeding and not obeying the law is not obeying the law. How does the trucker get charged with someone elses carelessness? If I am going 68 in a 55 and cause an accident you can bet your money I will be charged with the crime.

And chattycat alot of truck drivers own their own trucks so what do you suppose they do with them? Leave them in some random location then go pick them up when they go to work?

SilentJ
0
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SilentJ 02/13/08 - 12:14 pm
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Like I said before If your

Like I said before If your doing 60 in the dark with your headlights on you certainly should be able to see well ahead of you!

TrukinRanger
1748
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TrukinRanger 02/13/08 - 12:28 pm
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This is ridiculous. First of
Unpublished

This is ridiculous. First of all the article says that the reflective markings on the trailer WERE in DOT regulations. The driver had trouble making a turn and was trying to correct himself- and the off duty officer was SPEEDING. Even if he was ONLY going 65-68 mph- that is still OVER the 55 mph speed limit. It is standard for any DOT regulated driver to be drug tested (even if someone rear ends THEM).... So he came up with trace amounts of THC in his system- that does NOT mean he was stoned at the time of the accident. That's like drinking a few beers a few days before you have an accident. Folks- this was an ACCIDENT and only made a big deal because it was a police officer (speeding). Give the driver a fine and some probation- he's already lost his job.

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