Former state trooper willing to plead guilty in deadly crash

by: Jodie Fleischer Updated:

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ATLANTA - A former Georgia State Patrol trooper says he's willing to plead guilty in the crash that killed the wife of the Atlanta Braves' head trainer, but only to two of the three charges.

In an emotional interview with Channel 2 investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer, Don Crozier acknowledged responsibility for the December 2011 crash that killed Kathy Porter, the wife of Braves head trainer Jeff Porter.

"There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about that family. The Porter family is in my prayers every day," Crozier told Fleischer.

Crozier wiped away tears and said his life is forever changed no matter what happens at his trial, which is scheduled to begin on Monday.

"I really do not want them to go through a trial," said Crozier. "I don't want to put the family through any more hardships than they've already faced."

The Porter family was heading to a football game on New Years Eve 2011 and had the right of way in a downtown Atlanta intersection, when Crozier's patrol car slammed into their sport utility vehicle.

Crozier was on his way to assist a fellow trooper who was chasing a motorcycle.

He was trying to head off the suspect driver and had his emergency lights and siren on. But according to his indictment, Crozier was traveling more than 30 miles per hour above the speed limit and never slowed for the intersection.

"I made a tragic mistake that day that I can never take back. And I'm truly sorry," said Crozier.

He says he's willing to plead guilty to charges of reckless driving and vehicular homicide, which could mean 15 years in prison. But he will not plead guilty to the third charge, violating his oath.

"I don't believe I violated my oath. If I did not respond to the call when I heard it, then I felt like I would have violated my oath," said Crozier.

He says his oath is the symbol of the career he cherished, and now has lost.

"I was a dedicated trooper. I loved my job, without a shadow of a doubt I loved it," Crozier said. "When I think of violation of oath, I think of somebody that's either lied ... or it's like a criminal aspect of it. That's not what I was doing. I was just doing my job."

Crozier says he does not remember the crash.

"I don't remember getting out of the car, I don't remember calling anything on the radio, I don't remember the ambulance ride. I woke up and I was in the emergency room," said Crozier. "I asked from my fellow troopers what had happened and they wouldn't tell me, and a nurse told me."

He says he is still just as devastated today.

"It's just, I never wanted that to happen," he said. "I know that the family will never have a peace of mind when it comes toward me or what happened and I will always live with that. I just want a resolution that's good for both sides."

Crozier says if the violation of oath charged is dismissed, he is willing to enter a guilty plea on Monday.

But Crozier's attorney, Mike Hawkins, says so far, prosecutors won't budge. They cite three prior crashes in three years that were also Crozier's fault.

"The indictment says Don failed to follow his training, after having been retrained after those accidents. What does retrained mean? All they did was put a letter in his file," said Hawkins.

Crozier lost his job after the Porter crash. Now he could lose his freedom.

"I'm nervous. I'm scared. I mean, who wouldn't be?"he said.

He says whatever his punishment is, he'd like to share his story to help caution other officers, in hopes no one else will have to go through this.