A Baldwin County jury came back with a mixed verdict in a hit and run case that happened in Gulf Shores in 2012.
Michael Hoeft was killed in that crash. Fox10 News reporter Chasity Byrd was in the courtroom and spoke to both sides after the verdict.
A jury found 54-year-old Melvin Hutcheson guilty of criminally negligent homicide, and not-guilty of leaving the scene of an accident with injury or death.
“If somebody puts themselves in my client’s shoes could any of us really expect to reasonably foresee someone actually riding a bike at that hour with two dogs and when we look at it like that it’s not unreasonable that he had no idea he had hit a person, and that’s what we’re required to find, that he knew that had hit a person and he left; they had to find that he knew he did it and he didn’t care,” said defense attorney John Beck.
The criminally negligent homicide charge, for which he was convicted, is a misdemeanor while the LSA charge, for which he was acquitted, is a felony. Police said Michael Hoeft was riding his recumbent bike Mardi Gras day of 2012 on County Road 4 in Gulf Shores. Investigators said Hutcheson, in a Ford Explorer, hit Hoeft from behind. Hutcheson said while testifying last week he didn’t know he had hit a person, just thought it was possibly a dog or deer. Afterward, Hutcheson kept going and didn’t stop. Authorities were able to locate the vehicle and Hutcheson after examining evidence on the scene. Hoeft’s wife spoke after the verdict was read.
“The last two years I’ve been wondering what happened and being able to put some pieces together, personally I’m focusing on positive the people that where there the people that did stayed pulled over and the first responders so many people from the community the neighbors trying to find my other dog that they did find, this an awesome community it’s biker friendly. People need to know that bikes are out there,” said Carol Hoeft.
As far as her husband …
“I’ll see him heaven I know that’s where he’s at and that’s what I hang on to,” she said.
With the misdemeanor charge, Hutcheson could face up to a year in jail, which the prosecution said it will request. Beck said he hopes to get his client probation.