CARROLL COUNTY, Ga. — Channel 2 Action News was in the courtroom Friday when a judge declared a mistrial in a case against a former state trooper.
Anthony Scott is accused of causing a crash that killed two teenagers on Highway 27 in Carroll County in 2015. Kylie Lindsey, 17, and Isabella Chinchilla, 16, died in the crash.
Then-17-year-old Ben Finken and then-18-year-old Dillon Wall were in the car with Lindsey and Chinchilla. They suffered critical injuries but survived the crash.
Scott was charged with second-degree vehicular homicide, two counts of serious injury by vehicle, violating oath of office and one count each of speeding and reckless driving.
During the trial Wednesday, Scott's attorney asked for a mistrial, citing new evidence. On Friday, Judge Simpson granted the mistrial, saying the defendant's constitutional rights were violated.
Simpson ruled prosecutors withheld evidence.
Channel 2's Justin Wilfon was in Hiram, where one of the teen's aunts agreed to talk only to Channel 2 Action News about the mistrial.
Tracy Tatum is Chinchilla's aunt.
"The process totally let us down," Tatum said. "We're devastated. That word... We're furious. We're angry."
Tatum said anyone else would have been charged in the case.
"If it had been a regular citizen, and we were going 90 miles an hour in a 55, suggested 45, and we hit and killed twp teens, we would have already been handed our justice," Tatum said.
The girls' families believe the defense successfully distracted the judge, but say it won't distract them from seeking justice.
"This is about speed," Tatum said. "It's about a Georgia State Patrol officer breaking the law, and there were deadly consequences."
District Attorney Herb Cranford said he plans on getting the case back in front of a jury.
With no verdict, emotional family members of the victims left the courthouse saying the decision was an "injustice" and "a tragedy."
An aunt of one of the victims told Channel 2 Action News the mistrial is a delay in justice for Lindsey and Chinchilla.
“There were a lot of things we felt could have been done early on in the case, the investigation part of the case that weren’t done, video gathering, evidence gathering and then the case itself we don’t think was very well put together,” defense attorney Mac Pilgrim said.
Scott was on trial for the past two weeks.
As the jury was deliberating, the defense got word of a meeting the state had with troopers over evidence.
After re-looking at the evidence, Pilgrim said the troopers determined one of the teens was in the front seat, and not the back as they originally thought.
“I called both of the troopers and they both independently confirmed this meeting had occurred and what they talked about and that is something that has never been told to us ever,” Pilgrim said.
Pilgrim said in all of his years of trying cases, this one has had many twists and turns.
“This case was very odd in that regard, the breaks, the timing, the length of it, troopers being charged, very unusual,” Pilgrim said.
In a statement, Cranford said he disagrees with the court and anticipates retrying the case and looks forward to a fair trial that provides justice for the victims and their families.
Read full statement is below:
"I’m not going to comment on everything the court said today. I do disagree with the court’s analysis about this being a violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights and the court’s characterization of this office and the public servants who work in it. We are simply trying to get justice which includes honoring every defendant’s constitutional rights.
"As an office we talk about exculpatory evidence and erring on the side of turning over all evidence in our case. That is why we have an open file policy where the defense gets a copy of everything in our file. And in this case, the defense did get a copy of everything in our file. The best practice is and would have been to make sure the defense knew about the new theory the troopers had about the location of one of the victims in the car. We regularly provide information to defense attorneys much more beneficial to the defense than the information at issue here. We have a duty to do so and we take pride in executing that duty.
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