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Jury: State Trooper Not Guilty in Limestone County Trial

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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.


    • Garry

      I was waiting on the jury to revel their decision and I was to say the least shocked. How could a jury of our peers let this happen. I am seeing more and more that law enforcement are considering themselves above the law, this just proved they are right.

    • Alan Yates

      The jury heard the evidence. They found the man not guilty. I certainly wouldn’t consider your input for 30 seconds since you have no idea of what you are talking about. For the person who suggested asking HEMSI and Fire officials about their opinion…Their opinions are not relevant to this case. There are vast differences between driving an ambulance or fire apparatus and a patrol car and the systems do not logically cross over. Evidence showed that the speed of the patrol car was 55mph at impact and that is a reasonable speed and shows that the patrol car was under control. In today’s “cop-hating” society these letters are not surprising, I suppose. I submit to you that if you hate the Police so badly…next time you need help call a crackhead since they seem to act as you wish everyone would.

  • What Branko Said

    I think the ignorant fool should serve time, but since the jury didn’t do its job the family should pursue civil action. They will definetly win.

      • Joe

        I guess he was doing his best to protect and serve….. oh, wait he was doing 120 mph down a two lane road…. Who there to protect this family from this idiot… not the jury.

      • Branko Pezdi

        If YOU’d murdered two innocent people by doing 120 mph, do YOU think you’d have gotten away with it in court? This couple’s family has every right to sue this state trooper in civil court for all he’s got and more, and I hope they win. How about YOU go to Iran if you love State cronyism so much.

  • Michael Kewl

    A sad death for 2 people who didn’t deserve this…and now a young man carries with him the deaths of these 2 fine people for the remainder of his life…only he knows all that happened and why.

    • Madison City Girl

      @ Michael, yeah you are right, only he knows what happen, but unfortunately the others are not here to share their side of the story!! Justice was not served in this case, lately that has been happening a lot!! In the small town of Athens, there are more crooked cops, state troopers than anything on this earth. I wonder who got paid to get this trooper off??

  • Beth

    This just means that if you are a state trooper that you can do what ever you want to, you are above the law. Maybe if everyone will stop giving to the state troopers when they knock in your door as I have done they will not have the money to afford 4 attorneys to stand behind a man that KILLED no MURDERED not only Jamie and Sarah but left 2 girls without parents. I understand that guilty would not bring them back but at least the family could have some closer.

  • Branko Pezdi

    In the meantime I’m facing a court date in a couple of months to fight a “running a stop sign” ticket. This occurred at 5:30 am, on my way to work, no traffic, my car was moving at literally a walking pace after I had obviously slowed down to almost a complete stop. I’m sure I’ll get the same consideration as this trooper (yeah riiiight….). Funny, immediately after my ticket stop, I ended up behind a Huntsville cop in his cruiser, who sped up to 75 in a 55 mph zone as soon as he hit the Eastern Bypass in Hampton Cove on HIS way to work.

  • Jessica Stone

    My name is Jessi. Sarah was my sister and Jamie my brother inlaw. My heart aches everyday. I lost two of my best friends. Our other sister just had a baby last year that Sarah would have loved so much. New baby girl even has her middle name. I have sat back and watched the comments and the anger and the hatred for over two years and it sickens me. This was the worst thing my family has ever had to go through and there is not one ounce of anger in me. I feel sorry Officer Moss. he has to live with this for the rest of his life. Murder is when you intend to take someone else’s life, which he did not do. What if you got in your car right now and glanced down and slammed into someone or is it different because it was you who was driving and you never intended to hurt someone? I was there when those girls were born. I know what they lost by losing their parents. Do you really think the best example for them is to hate someone when they make mistake? We as human beings are above animals because we were born with the ability to forgive. I know he was doing wrong. I had to talk to the coroner’s office to hear what happened to them and how exactly they died. Those girls having to give DNA samples so they could identify their parents. And still no anger. I really think we should evaluate ourselves as humans instead of judging others.

    • Branko Pezdi

      Sorry, we have every right to judge. Ok, admitted that calling it murder is going over the line. However, this is clearly a case of criminal negligence – there is absolutely NO circumstance in which doing 120 mph on a 2 lane road is justified – AND this is a case of State cronyism. We have every right to be angry, just as we admire your kind and forgiving heart, which I admit I certainly don’t possess. Best wishes to you and your family, we ARE on your side!

      • Jennifer

        I am assuming you have never done anything wrong and more than likely never will in your perfect life. If the family of these people can forgive then why do you feel the need to continue hate? Please reevaluate yourself and remember there is only one judge in this world and its definitely not you. I feel sorry for you.

    • Waymon

      Jessi, thanks for your comments! You being a family member of those who lost their lives seem to understand better than others! Maybe, my words on my Bible Doctrine can be of some help to you, and family members?

    • Tammy

      Your family is in my prayers. You’ve shown true Christian compassion in your time of sorrow and my heart aches for you. May God continue to bless you all and ease your pain at the loss of your family members.

    • Regina Falk

      Jessica at 19 years old I lost a brother and sister in law to a wreck. I felt sorry for the truck driver for as you said he is left with the memory.He was the first to see what had happened to the two in the car. I would never want those kind of memories nor do I wish them for anyone. May god bless you and those children left behind. Love is what they need not revenge.

  • tracey

    I agree with Jessica Stone. I don’t think he intenisional set out to kill that couple that day. He was headed to a wreck with injuries. It could easly happen to you folks then you see it differently.

    • Branko Pezdi

      Of course he didn’t do it intentionally. This is why the charge was criminally NEGLIGENT homicide. But this doesn’t absolve him of the deed and it’s one reason so many of us are angry at the verdict. The other reason, of course (to repeat), is he got away with it because he is a state trooper. Neither you nor I would have gotten away with it if we’d killed someone by driving 120 mph. By the way, this could “easily” happen to us? Huh? I may be wrong but I believe doing 120 mph is a felony. But anwyay, we’re going around in circles here. Let’s agree to disagree.

      • JR

        yes, you are WRONG. Doing 120 is not a felony. Learn the Rules of the Road under Title 32 of the Alabama Criminal Code. 32-5A-171 to be exact.

    • Madison City Girl

      @ Tracey, MINOR INJURIES I believe he was trying to get to!! Dispatcher stated ” Minor Injuries”. There was no reason to travel at a speed of 120 m.p.h you think?? The family has received one million for this in civil court, maybe that is why they are son forgiving now!! If Mark Mcdaniel had this case, I can assure you that justice would have been served!!

      • LG

        I do not know where you got your information from. The family HAS NOT received any money from a civil case for this. We will forgive eventually but will not forget.

  • Rick

    This is just 1 of hundreds of things the law enfocement community gets away with,no wonder the average citizen has no respect for police officers anymore,when i was a kid we respected officers,but this new generation is just corrupt.

  • a.b.

    First, this is a horrible thing that happened. I feel for everyone involved the family that lost their lives and the trooper whoes live was changed forever that day. And the fact the trooper was traveling at whatever speed is a mute point. He may have been traveling at higher speeds prior. But everyone with opinions on his speed needs to take into consideration he was going to another call at the time(lights and sirens). The impact was NOT at 100+ mph, it was much much slower. The damage to both vehicles reflects that. Huge tragedy, but this is something that every police, fire, and ems workers face. Be careful on the roads people and pay attention to your surroundings!

  • John Doe

    Governor Bentley should require cameras in ALL Trooper vehicles. There should have been audio & video for this incident. We all should be watching the video for ourselves right now to be able to actually see what happens. The troopers write a massive amount of tickets ($$$) and probably half of that is just to generate money for the government. The video could say it all but we don’t have it.

    If the deceased made a mistake and pulled out in front of him then I support a not guilty plea but I can not emphasize enough that there should be video available.

  • Willieben46

    An emergency responder must drive to an emergency scene in a responsible manner. If the driver and his crew do not get there, they are not going to help anyone. Two more crews must be dispatched. One to the scene of the responder’s wreck and another to the original emergency. More manpower is tied up and there are delays in getting help.

  • Jennifer

    I wonder how different all the angry people would feel if the trooper had been going to a wreck that involved one of your family members… then he would be hated for not getting there fast enough! People are so quick to judge but forget to think about other angles. Evil evil hearts in people these days. So sad for you all.

    • Randy Davis

      You ask how i would feel if he would have been heading to wreck me or my family member may have been in well if he is not driving an ambulance i could care less how fast he get’s there police officer’s should not be allowed to speed no more than we should

      • Jennifer

        The police officers are usually the first on the scene. In some cases, that police officer is one of the last voices an accident victim hears. They may hold the victims hand and talk to them to try to get them to hold on, sometimes the police officer may just be the one that helps the victim to hold on for those last few moments before an ambulance or fire truck gets there. You know nothing about what a police officer goes through on a daily basis! One of the major things is no matter what people say about them or how they are treated they will be the ones that puts their life at risk to protect someone completely unknown to them like yourself. You can down them and say horrible things about them but unless you would like the position of walking up to a car you have pulled over, going into an unknown house, confronting a suspect and not knowing whether you will get out of there and be able to go home to your family then you should be a little more thankful that they are more willing than some of your family to put their life up for yours. Or you can continue to voice your opinion while hiding behind a computer screen.

    • chuck

      Troopers respond to an accident to find out what happened. Fire and rescue respond to save lives. 120 mph to an accident to find out what happened(and killed 2 people) is not right and should have been dealt with differently . Just my opinion

  • Donald berryman

    Dear Jessica stone my name is don and my family feels for your families loss. I have no dog in this race but am so proud that your family is not full of hate because it would only destroy what’s left of the family other people can say what they would do but they are not walking in your shoes. Yes he may have been in the wrong but it is something he will never be able to get over but with the love your family has you will be able to overcome and thanks for your comment don and dar

  • Jerry

    I did not get to hear the prosecutor’s case, but I question how hard they tried to get a conviction. Not Guilty is not an acceptable ruling. I have taken and given EVOC (emergency vehicle operations course) classes. I have never heard anyone even try to justify response speeds of 120 MPH. Most states allow emergency vehicles to drive speeds in excess of the posted speed limit within prudent and reasonable levels. We teach that we as emergency vehicle operators have a responsibility to the public to drive in a prudent and safe manner. Anyone operating a motor vehicle at 120 MPH on a public roadway endangers the lives of anyone they meet and endanger their own life. There is no way this is prudent and safe operation of a motor vehicle. Simply operating at this speed should be considered a homicidal act.

    Directors of HEMSI, Madison Fire, and other agencies should have been called as witnesses and asked what their departments have as driving rules and guidelines. I guarantee that anyone driving one of their vehicles at this speed would be seriously punished or dismissed. If the highway patrol does not have regulations prohibiting this type of response then they should be held liable.

  • Randy Davis

    He is a state trooper what did everyone think was going to happen every one should know by now that the police are above the law they can drag a mother out of a car in front of her children they can kick a man in the face while he is handcuffed they can arrest a man for no reason while he is leaveing a church now they can kill innocent people and with the god complex they all have you can bet this guy will not loose a minute of sleep and from the sound of it i think bob may be a cop

  • Bob

    Cop haters are gonna hate. Either they have been arrested themselves or they have a family member that has. Maybe they got a ticket. Anyway they are going to hate no matter what.

    • chuck

      Not a cop hater here(nor arrested or have had a family member arrested). Just wondering why he killed 2 people responding to a traffic accident. They have a tough job and would not want it but there are 2 people dead because of his actions.

  • Sophie

    He was responding to a car accident involving a child with reported head injuries. His lights and sirens were going. This car pulled out from a side road onto the road the trooper was traveling, he was over a hill so they didn’t see him. When he topped the hill and saw them, he got in the other lane to pass, The other driver apparently hadn’t seen him and tried to turn left in front of him. He then tried to go right around them, but the car stopped mid turn. He was going fast, but he was responding to a call. He tried tried to steer clear of them. He had no where to go. He did his best to slow down. (all via news courier description) If it had been my child who had head injuries, I would want him to get to me as fast as he could. It was a terrible horrible accident. We could argue all day about speed and such, but it won’t bring anyone back. This man if my understanding is correct is a Veteran and has fought for our country and then served as a trooper as well. He is not evil. He isn’t a bad person. He isn’t selling crack on the street corner. He has spent his life trying to help people. That is what he was trying to do on the day of the accident when it all went terribly wrong. Please before you judge. Think about a time when you had a close call. You sailed through a red light, forgot a stop sign, or pushed the speed a little on the highway because you were running late. Your bad decision is no better than his. Judge not. I hope all that are speaking cruelly of this man never have the tables turned and be in such a situation yourself.

    • Linda Gossett

      There was no evidence that the Gossett car pulled out in front of Moss.
      They had just left their home 5 minutes prior to the incident to pick up a sick child from school. There was evidence that they were sitting still and that was proven by State Trooper testing. They were waiting to turn left off Lucas Ferry , which was the road in which they lived , onto Malone Rd. Moss was negligent in the decision he made to go 106 + mph

      • Sophie

        Linda, I assume you are a family member, and I am sorry for your loss. I am just quoting other news sources that I have read.
        “A Decatur trooper post dispatcher testified that she received a call about a single-car wreck on (Huntsville)-Brownsferry Road, just west of Lucas Ferry road in which a young child suffered head injuries.

        Moments later, she received a transmission from Moss saying that he was headed south on Lucas Ferry Road, traveling approximately 85 mph on his way to the wreck with the injured child when a car pulled out from Moyers Road, just as he crested a hill.

        He said he had both his lights and siren employed when he was unable to stop and crashed into the back of the Gossett couple’s white 1995 Mitsubishi Mirage. He reported that the car was on fire and at least one of the occupants was “10-89” – deceased – and that he was not injured.

        Meanwhile, Lt. Jonathan Hinton of the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office, who was serving as a school resource officer at nearby Tanner High School, heard the reports of the first accident involving the child on the scanner and also that there wasn’t anyone immediately available to respond.”—The News Courier

        I also read another article that listed the information that I stated above. Unfortunately the only person still alive that knows what happened is Mr. Moss. There are no winners in this situation. I hope your family finds peace.

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