LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - A jury has found an Alabama State Trooper not guilty of criminally negligent homicide.
Jurors weighed the evidence in the case against Alabama State Trooper Heath Moss. They returned with the verdict at 10:45 a.m. Thursday.
Moss, 33, had been charged with criminally negligent homicide in the April 25, 2011 deaths of Jamie and Sarah Gossett.
The couple was headed to pick up their daughters from school, when Moss rear-ended their car on Lucas Ferry Road. The trooper was on his way to a call. In testimony Wednesday, he admitted he was driving 120 mph in the seconds before the crash - as shown by electronic data taken from his patrol car. However, he said he braked and tried to avoid the Gossett's, but they swerved in front of him.
"Apparently, you need a license to kill in this state. You need to be a trooper," said family member John Gossett.
Under cross-examination, District Attorney Brian Jones questioned Moss' account of events - saying the trooper's initial report greatly underestimated his speed and asking whether he might not also be wrong about the position of the Gossetts' car. Moss replied, "I was there. I was physically at the scene. I saw what happened. I know what happened. That vehicle turned in front of me."
Jones reminded Moss that other witnesses testified the Gossetts' car was actually at a standstill, but the trooper remained adamant he had done everything he could to avoid the collision - which sent the victims' vehicle 150 feet into a field. He offered his apologies to the family, saying he still thought about the crash every day.
Jurors received the case late Wednesday afternoon and deliberated about an hour before asking to be dismissed for the evening. If the jury had convicted Moss, he could have faced up to two years in prison.
"In a case like this, we have a situation where nobody wins. Even if he had been found guilty, there was no win here. Jamie and Sarah are still deceased. We can never take that back. We feel for the family, and we respect the verdict they came back with," said Jones.
Jim Wooley, Moss' attorney, said, "he hopes to go back and resume his duties. He has not been suspended. He has been working the entire time. He wants to go back and do what Heath does and that is serve the people."
"I hope he enjoys his job because we're going to make damn sure he ain't again" said John Gossett.