Bicyclist homicide trial continues

The second day in the trial of an accused hit and run driver began Tuesday morning, February 3.

Melvin Hutcheson, 54, is accused of leaving the scene of a crash on February 21, 2012 that claimed the life of Michael Hoeft, 53, of Gulf Shores.

A jury of 14 Baldwin County residents – 10 women and four men – will hear the criminal case against Hutcheson.

Authorities said Hoeft was riding a recumbent bicycle west on Baldwin County Road 4 at about 6 p.m. when it was hit from behind by a black Ford model that did not stop.

Investigators believe it was the 2001 Ford Explorer owned and driven by Hutcheson.

Hoeft’s heavily damaged bike, as well as items belonging to him were key pieces of evidence the Baldwin County District Attorney’s office presented to the jury on Tuesday.

Teresa Heinz, Baldwin County Assistant District Attorney, called upon numerous investigators in the case.

“We’ve heard from first responders, EMTs and personnel that responded to the scene,” said Heinz, “We expect the testimony to continue to be investigators and some of the witnesses that were with him that day.”

Detective Chad Lambert with the Gulf Shores Police Department, testified in the case.

Lambert was one of the first on scene. He verified the evidence shows Hoeft had been hit from behind while on the bike and the driver responsible kept going.

However, John Beck, Hutcheson’s attorney, says he believes the evidence points in a different direction.

“He knew he hit something but didn’t know what it was. He thought it was an animal, debris or a pothole. He dropped off his passenger and came back to take a look and didn’t see anything,” Beck said.

Hoeft’s family watched as photos from the scene was admitted into evidence. One picture was of Hoeft’s dog, which was also struck and killed that night.

While neither Hoeft’s family or Hutcheson’s family agreed to comment on camera, Hutcheson’s wife Pepper did take the stand to answer questions regarding evidence of damage to her husbands vehicle.

She told the court she wasn’t aware of the damage before the night of the crash.

Beck says his client’s character is too strong to be responsible for such an act.

“He is completely distraught that he was involved in an accident that got someone killed. That’s very hard to deal with,” said Beck, “He is not the kind of guy that is going to leave someone for dead. He is not that guy.”

Hutcheson is facing charges of leaving an accident scene involving injury or death and criminally negligent homicide.

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