Lynn says inattention to road led to wreck

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 26, 2002

[07/26/02]Closing arguments were scheduled today in the justice court jury trial of a Warren County law-enforcement employee charged with driving under the influence.

During Thursday’s second day of testimony, defendant Georgia Lynn, the victim assistance coordinator for the Warren County District Attorney’s Office, said her inattention to the road caused the March 7 wreck that led to her being charged with misdemeanor DUI by Vicksburg Police, and that alcohol was not a contributing factor.

The trial was before a jury at the request of County Prosecutor Johnny Price, who said empaneling one would be proper in light of the controversies surrounding the case. The jury trial, which began Wednesday, was the first a 19-year court employee said she could remember.

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Controversies in the case have included Police Chief Tommy Moffett’s public protest that Municipal Judge Allen Derivaux transferred it to the county court without offering it to another judge. Also, Officer Glen Roe, who testified Thursday to administering a breath test that showed Lynn far below the legal limit, has been fired by the city.

The wreck was on the road that becomes U.S. 61 North, south of the entrance ramp from Interstate 20 to U.S. 61 North.

In Thursday testimony, Lynn said the wreck happened shortly after she left an East Clay Street restaurant where she had consumed three cocktails over about a three-hour period. Assistant District Attorney Mike Bonner, with whom Lynn said she was talking while drinking, gave corroborating testimony.

Lynn said she was headed north on the road and was negotiating a curve when a hand-held radio on her car’s floor moved from where she had placed it.

“I was reaching down to pick the radio up,” she said, when she crossed into southbound traffic and struck nearly head-on a vehicle in the southbound lane.

Roe said he administered, using a portable machine in his car, a breath test to Lynn at at the request of Officer Marcus Lovette, who was in charge of the wreck scene. Roe said he advised Lynn to take the test since, if she refused, she could be charged with DUI refusal.

Law-enforcement officers who were at the scene said Lynn told them while she remained in her driver’s seat after the wreck that she did not need an ambulance. A Warren County Sheriff’s detective testified that he responded to the scene and requested one on her behalf.

A blood-alcohol test administered when Lynn later went to River Region Medical Center reportedly registered almost double the level that results in a charge. In another controversy, Judge Richard Smith, who is hearing the case, last month excluded from the trial the result of that test. That means the six jurors were to hear only witness reports.

In first-day testimony on Wednesday, Lovette said that Lynn’s crossing into oncoming traffic and demonstrating other typical symptoms of intoxication led him to suspect she had been driving under the influence of alcohol.

Also on Wednesday, Kelli Nations, the trauma specialist who treated Lynn an hour after the wreck, said she thought Lynn was intoxicated while Lynn was being examined in the emergency room.