The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

October 25, 2012

Start date for trooper trial moved

By Jean Cole

— The trial for an Alabama state trooper accused of criminally negligent homicide in the deaths of an Athens couple in 2011 has been rescheduled for next year.

James “Heath” Moss is scheduled to be tried Feb. 11, 2013, in Limestone County Circuit Court. His trial had been scheduled for September. The district attorney has said the defense and prosecution were still exchanging information related to the case.

Moss is accused of causing a wreck that killed Jamie and Sarah Gossett on April 25, 2011. He was on duty that day, heading to another accident to provide traffic control when the accident occurred.

Moss was southbound on Lucas Ferry Road, with lights and siren activated, when he struck the rear of the Gossetts’ car, which was also southbound on Lucas Ferry and preparing to turn onto Moyers Road. The impact forced both vehicles off the road and into a field, where the Gossetts’ car burst into flames.

A Limestone County grand jury was presented four options when the case was presented, including reckless murder, manslaughter, vehicular homicide or criminally negligent homicide. Jurors voted to formally charge Moss with misdemeanor criminally negligent homicide. The charge is a misdemeanor unless the driver is under the influence of alcohol or another drug, which was not true in this case.

According to Alabama law, a person commits the crime of criminally negligent homicide by causing the death of another person by criminal negligence. The jury may consider statutes and ordinances regulating the conduct of the accused in determining whether he or she is culpably negligent.

Moss remains employed as an Alabama state trooper but does administrative work rather than patrolling.