Truck driver found guilty in I-85 hit-and-run

By JOHN A. WINTERS john@newnan.com A truck driver was found guilty Friday of hit-and-run in a 2010 accident on Interstate 85 that also injured a sheriff's deputy. A Coweta County State Court jury deliberated almost eight hours before finding Michael Ray Derrosett, 36, of West Virginia, guilty of the hit-and-run charge, as well as failure to maintain lane and violation of the Move Over Law.
Derrosett was found not guilty of DUI -- less safe. The DUI charge was for prescription drugs Derrosett had in his system, and did not involve alcohol. It was that DUI charge that appeared to be the sticking point for jurors. There was no dispute over whether Derrosett had drugs in his system and that they were prescribed, according to a statement from the Coweta County Solicitor's Office. The state argued tests showed the levels "to be above therapeutic range." However, Derrosett's expert witness said that the "therapeutic range was broader than that which was relied upon by the state," according to Solicitor's Office officials. "The fact that they deliberated that long, based on the Solicitor's Office experience, would indicate there was a split vote to convict and to acquit," they added. Chief Assistant Sandy Wisenbaker, who prosecuted the case, said, "We would have liked to have the conviction on the DUI... but we respect the jurors' decision." "I think law enforcement prepared a solid case," she added. "Everyone did there job on-scene as well as this week." "I don't know what else we could have done," Wisenbaker said. This week's trial ran three days, with the jury beginning deliberations Thursday evening. On the guilty charges, the judge issued the following sentences: * Hit-and-run: 12 months probation, $1,310 fine, judicial suspension of commercial driving privilege and attendance at a Driver Risk Reduction course. * Move Over Law: $500 fine plus 12 months additional probation. The Move Over Law requires vehicles to move to the next lane if safe to do so, or slow down enough that they could immediately stop if needed. * Failure to maintain lane: $1,310 fine. The incident occurred October 2010 as Deputy Jeff Bugg of the Coweta County Sheriff's Office was performing a traffic stop on northbound Interstate 85. As Bugg returned to his vehicle, it and the other vehicle were sideswiped by the 18-wheeler. Both cars were damaged and Bugg was thrown to the road shoulder by the impact. Derrosett did not stop and kept traveling northbound, authorities said at the time. Bugg radioed in a description of the 18-wheeler and its direction of travel. Several motorists called to report the accident and one reported seeing Derrosett drove his vehicle off the interstate and pull into the back of the Pilot Truck Stop at exit 41. Derrosett, 36, was found minutes after the incident and arrested. Deputy Bugg was able to drive his vehicle away from the scene and was later checked out by physicians. He was not seriously injured.

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