Family: No justice after delayed sentencing in fatal crash

by: Tony Thomas Updated:

A judge sentenced a man facing charges in a vehicular homicide case to one year's probation and a $1,000 fine. The case had stretched out to eight years after the case, which happened in 2005.

The hearing was held Monday morning at the Gilmer County Courthouse for the north Georgia man.

One of the victims in the case says part of the eight-year delay was due to Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston using a state law to avoid going to court.

Amanda Mosher's husband Joey and daughter Hailey Truelove were killed in the accident on Highway 515 in Gilmer County on Jan. 24, 2005. A short time later, Calhoun resident Walter Layson was arrested for hitting the family, but he's not yet gone to trial.

Records show he's hardly seen a judge at all since 2008 when he hired Ralston as his attorney. With the case set for trial Monday, Mosher says she's been told by prosecutors they've cut a deal. She said Lawson was to serve two years probation, pay a $2,000 fine, and do 100 hours community service in exchange for a guilty plea.

"I don't agree with it by any means. " Mosher told Channel 2's Tony Thomas on Sunday.

Mosher said prosecutors told her they thought the "evidence was stale" because of the long delays and they worried about what a jury would say at trial.

"It's just like a circus ride, I've been failed all the way around," Mosher said.

Thomas has been looking into the case for nearly two years. Last year, he reported on Ralston's use of legislative leave to do state work instead of showing up in court to defend clients. Thomas went to three courthouses last spring and found 87 cases where Ralston had written a judge and said he was too busy with state work. In total,

Ralston requested delays 129 times. Under the law, judges can't deny the request.

Last April, Ralston told Thomas he thought he was handling the two full-time jobs of speaker and lawyer well and believed his number of legislative leave requests would be higher than what Channel Two found.

"I think within the demands of the position of being speaker we are moving these cases along" Ralston said.

Mosher said Monday's sentencing didn't provide justice for her family.

Thomas contacted Ralston's office for a comment and his spokesperson replied in an email: "Mr. Ralston plans to be in court Monday morning. He believes it would be totally inappropriate to comment on the case prior to the court appearance."