The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

November 21, 2013

Trooper not guilty; victims' family promises lawsuit

ATHENS —

Angry family members of the late Jamie Lee Gossett and Sara Rene Gossett vowed Thursday they will press on with a civil suit against Alabama State Trooper Heath Moss despite a Limestone County jury finding him not guilty on two counts of criminally negligent homicide.

They also vowed to campaign against the re-election of District Attorney Brian Jones because they say he “withheld evidence.”

Moss had been on trial since Monday in the deaths of the Gossetts, who died April 25, 2011, when Moss slammed into the back of their 1995 Mitsubishi Mirage on his way to answer another wreck call in which a child suffered head injuries.

Defense Attorney Jim Wooley said a conviction would have resulted in a “legal tsunami for law enforcement agencies and emergency responders.”

The wreck occurred on Lucas Ferry at Moyers roads as the Gossetts were on their way to Tanner High School to pick up an ill daughter.

The case went to the jury at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. The nine-woman, three-man jury deliberated for 1 hour, 45 minutes before sending a request to Circuit Court Judge Robert Baker to break for the night and resume deliberations at 9 a.m. Thursday.

The jury sent word at 10:35 a.m. Thursday that they had a verdict. When Baker polled the jury, all 12 members affirmed that it was their vote that Moss was not guilty on both counts.

Before the jury returned, Baker told those in the courtroom that he realized the emotional impact of the case, but he would not tolerate any kind of outburst from either side and he would not hesitate to have anyone arrested if they caused a disturbance in his courtroom.

Relief at the defense table was unmistakable as the verdict was read. Moss seemed to physically sag against his attorneys and wife.

The victims’ family, filling two front rows on the opposite side of the courtroom, issued an audible intake of their breathing and reached to embrace those sitting on either side of them.

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