Following two days of testimony, the jury returned shortly before 1 p.m. with a verdict of guilty on all nine counts for Bobby Lee Newman.
Newman, 28, was charged with homicide by vehicle, serious injury by vehicle, driving under the influence and making a false statement to a police officer after an accident which claimed the life of Todd Allyn Goddard, 27, of Temple.
Once released from prison, Newman will serve eight years on probation.
Assistant District Attorney Vincent Faucette, who prosecuted the case for the state, said Goddard’s family was “pleased” that the defendant was found guilty and that justice had been served.
“It’s tough for them all because they were such a close-knit group of friends,” Faucette said. “This doesn’t make everything all right, but they seemed pleased.”
Newman’s counsel, Carrollton attorney Jason Swindle, said the defendant will be exercising his right to appeal the verdict to the Georgia Court of Appeals.
“I would like to thank the jury for their service,” Swindle said. “I also pray that all of the families involved can find a level of peace and healing.”
During the trial, Swindle told the jury of six men and six women that the state could not prove that Newman was driving the vehicle at the time of the February 2012 accident.
“My client was drinking — so was everybody else,” Swindle said during his opening statement. “The question here boils down to this: can the state of Georgia prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Bobby Lee Newman was driving? I can tell you with absolute certainty that they are not going to come close to proving that.”
Assistant District Attorney Vincent Faucette disagreed, saying in his closing argument that the state had proven that Newman was driving via two avenues — the testimony of fellow passenger Christopher Allen Nestick, 26, and description of Newman’s actions after the accident.
“The only people who could tell us who got in that vehicle that night have told us,” Faucette said. “And that’s Nestick, who’s told us, and Bobby, who’s told us through his actions.”
Witnesses testified that Newman had seemed chiefly concerned with leaving the scene of the crash instead of helping the men he was riding with, who were all injured.
In the early morning hours of Feb. 18, 2012, four men, including Newman and Goddard, were traveling north on Center Point Road in a 1994 Ford Probe, a car belonging to Goddard’s younger brother.
While driving, the car left the roadway, struck a ditch and overturned before resting on the side of the road. None of the four men were found to be wearing seat belts at the time of the accident.
Newman and another passenger, 24-year-old Richard Christopher Evans of Temple, were ejected as the car overturned. Both Newman and Evans had been seated on the car’s driver side, Faucette said.
Goddard, Faucette said, was sitting in the front passenger seat. Fellow passenger Christopher Allen Nestick, 26, of Villa Rica, who testified Wednesday, was flown to Atlanta Medical Center for treatment.
Faucette told the jury that Newman had made a false statement to the responding officer, Georgia State Trooper First Class Nicholas Moore, when he said that he was not involved in the accident, but had been riding down the road when he saw the crashed car and got out to help.
That false statement, Faucette said, was the basis for Newman’s fourth charge.
Newman was found to have a blood alcohol content of 0.13 several hours after the accident. During the autopsy, Goddard was found to have a BAC of 0.158. The legal driving limit is 0.08.
Nestick testified on Wednesday that he had fallen asleep 10 minutes into the car ride home from the Carrollton bar and grill T.C. Rose. Nestick said he woke up after the accident had taken place.
Swindle told the jurors during his closing argument that it was therefore unknown who was driving at the time of the accident.
“The facts and the evidence are not on the side of the state,” Swindle said.
More than a dozen friends and family of both the deceased and the defendant were present for the reading of the verdict Friday afternoon.
Faucette said Newman will come before a judge one more time before going to a state penitentiary, to determine the restitution he will have to pay once released.
That hearing is expected to take place in the next month or two, Faucette said.