When Albertville Police responded to a call about a pedestrian struck by a vehicle last September, they initially thought Joseph Michael Jenkins ran over his stepfather, Tony Lynn Lee.
They soon found the car never touched Lee.
Investigators said the two argued over Jenkins' intent to sell some sheet metal, which was strapped to the roof of his car.
Jenkins got in his car and left, but police say the sheet metal extended beyond the sides of the vehicle, and clipped Lee in the neck.
Marshall County District Attorney Steve Marshall said Jenkins was aware of the accident, but left his stepfather in the middle of the road.
Lee bled to death.
"You've got to believe that had [Jenkins] been able to render assistance immediately, provide assistance to the victim with regard to the bleeding that occurred when he was struck by the metal, that possibly [Lee] could still be here," Marshall said.
Although the vehicle driven by Jenkins led to Lee's death, prosecutors did not have evidence to support criminal charges involving homicide.
"One of the things that we looked at was whether or not there was an intentional murder here, or an effort to hurt the victim," Marshall said.
"We concluded based on the investigation is that in fact it was just a tragic accident."
However, leaving the scene of an accident with injury is a crime, normally punishable by one to 10 years in jail.
Marshall said the fatality combined with Jenkins' criminal record, which includes an arrest three months earlier for domestic violence, made prosecutors want to seek out greater punishment.
"Based on his prior history, we felt like an upgrade to 15 years was appropriate." Marshall said.
"This was raised to a class A felony and based on that it was within the range of punishment."
Marshall said Jenkins intends to apply for probation instead of prison.
He said prosecutors will oppose anything less than 15 years.