House speaker uses law to delay vehicular homicide case, again

by: WSBTV.com web staff Updated:

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ATLANTA - Channel 2 Action News has learned that justice has been delayed yet again for a local woman whose husband and daughter were killed in a car crash nearly a decade ago.

Channel 2's Tony Thomas first exposed last year how a law allows lawmakers who are also attorneys to delay trials.

Amanda Mosher said it's been 8½ years since a horrible wreck killed her husband, Joey Truelove, and daughter, Hailey Truelove. Mosher and her son, Joshua Truelove, survived the crash.

Authorities charged Walter Layson with two counts of vehicular homicide. He pleaded not guilty and is out on bond. Layson is being represented by current Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston, who is an attorney.

Thomas talked to Mosher last year about how the case has been delayed time and time again. Now it's happened again.

Thomas obtained a letter from Ralston telling a Gilmer County judge he's just too busy with legislative duties to go to court in eight different criminal trials this week, including the one against Layson.

Mosher said she is being denied justice.

"It's basically the same old song and dance," Mosher told Thomas. "He walks away from it while I live in torment."

A month before Layson's latest trial date, Ralston wrote the court saying he's too busy with legislative duties to handle trials.

It's a law called Legislative Leave and judges can't deny it. Thomas' investigation last year found Ralston had used it 129 times in 87 cases since 2006. The latest request adds another eight cases delayed this week in Gilmer County.

"There is no law in the state of Georgia that says he can't. And the judge and the District Attorney can't question him," Mosher said.

Thomas looked into where Ralston was Monday when the Layson trial was to begin.

At 10 a.m., he was at the capitol for the signing of the state ethics reform bill. Then at noon, he spoke to the Buckhead Rotary Club.

"It's overwhelming how crazy our system is. It's not all Ralston, it's our laws," Mosher said.

Thomas sat down with Ralston last year to talk about the leaves.

"I think within the demands of the position of being speaker we are moving these cases along," Ralston told Thomas at the time.

Court records show Ralston has proposed eight weeks later this year as possible trial dates.

His spokesperson gave Thomas a statement Tuesday, saying, "Speaker Ralston agrees that this is an important case which should be given priority. It was for that reason he proposed a number of weeks of his availability for trial of this case in 2011 and 2012.

"For whatever reason, the previous prosecutorial staff chose to try other cases in which he was involved. He is confident that the new District Attorney and her staff are already working diligently to bring this case to a resolution.

"In fact, just last week he discussed with the prosecutor's office and the court potential dates this summer and fall to try the case. He continues to work hard to balance both the duties of public service and his obligations to the justice system. He is very mindful that all parties to this case deserve their day in court."

"I just want to stop reliving it so I can move forward with my life," Morgan said.

Ralston proposed several dates last year as well, but the trial was never scheduled. It appears from court records there may be a plea agreement of some sort in the works.



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