Attempted murder charges dropped in deputy hit by car case - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Attempted murder charges dropped in deputy hit by car case

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Breaking (5/8/13)

The verdict is in on Reginald Smith, Ashley McGraw and Dalvin Stephens.

The jury dropped the charge of attempted first degree murder against Smith, McGraw and Stephens.

The jury found the three defendants guilty of two counts of attempted aggravated robbery and one count of reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon.

Stevens was also found guilty of evading arrest and driving without a drivers license.

The sentencing is scheduled for June 10 at noon. McGraw will remain free on bond.


Soon a jury will begin deliberations in a case where three people are facing attempted murder charges after a chase nearly killed a Washington County, TN deputy.

News Channel 11 has been in the court room following the trial since day 1.  

Wednesday morning, Assistant District Attorney General Kenneth Baldwin gave his closing argument, focusing on Reginald Smith's guilt. Talking to Jury, says Smith he wants them to believe he simply went to the home to buy marijuana. That they "just happened" to find a gun in the vicinity of the crash. Smith testified he never had a gun. Baldwin said you "could fill a bag" with the "just so happens" in relation to Smith, and that should create reasonable doubt.

Baldwin added Smith wants the jury to believe the 911 call (from home saying they were robbed) was fake - an attempt to get back at Stephens, who had taken weed from the home a previous time without paying.

Baldwin told the jury by listening to the 911 tape, the panic in McElyea's voice couldn't be made up. "If you want to know who's telling the straight of this thing, listen to the 911 tape."

McGraw's public defender said: "It's time to set aside the emotions (from watching the dash cam video) for deliberation." 

She said McGraw's only involvement was that her car was used and she was a passenger. She added the state has not been able to prove any more than that. "To find Ms. McGraw guilty of attempted first degree pre-meditated murder, you have to find Mr. Stephens guilty of attempted first degree pre-meditated murder."

In order to do that, she said Stephens would have had to know Deputy Daugherty would step 2-3 steps backward, and not continue walking on his current path. Stephens swerved to avoid bottle spike strips and officer, she said, and instead officer stepped backward at the same time, which is when they hit.

Fabus, Stephens attorney, is giving his closing arguments to the jury now. 

Two defendants testify Tuesday

Two of three defendants took the stand Tuesday, accused of attempted murder in the running down of a Washington County Sheriff's Deputy.

The incident happened back in January of 2012, as Deputy Gary Daugherty was attempting to lay down spike strips. Ashley McGraw, Dalvin Stephens, and Reginald Smith were said to be involved in an armed robbery.

News Channel 11 was in court all day and has been covering the trial extensively.

Stephens and Smith decided to testify Tuesday, while McGraw decided against it.

Smith denied ever having a gun, nor committing a robbery. He testified he paid for marijuana at a residence on Sand Valley Road in Jonesborough, leading up to the hit and run. This stands in stark contract to both Daniel Hylmon and Eric McElyea's testimonies, stating they were robbed. Stephens testified he was trying to swerve, and avoid the spike strips when Daugherty stepped back and he hit. Sate-hens testified McGraw was screaming in the front seat, saying she shouldn't have come.

The state called 8 witnesses to testify, all leading up to an emotional testimony by Deputy Gary Daugherty, he officer struck at around 70-80 miles per hour January 2, 2012.

Daugherty was out of work for 13 months, and returned just 3 months ago.

The state showed images of his extensive injuries, and Dr. Jason Brashir, who treated Daugherty in the ER that day, confirmed the injuries were indeed life threatening.

The last thing remembered until waking up, was being hit by the car.

Tears began forming in Daugherty's eyes, when he told the jury the first thing he remembers saying after waking up, was that he couldn't see. He went on to testify that was because of the blood in his eyes. Daugherty tried to stop the pursuit with spike strips, so no one else would get hurt he said.

Stephens and McGraw were noticeably affected during the deputy's testimony, wiping away tears.

When Stephens took the stand, his attorney, Jerry Fabus, gave him the opportunity to address Daugherty personally.

All three defendant statements lined up that they were going to a home on Sand Valley Road, to buy marijuana.

The court dismissed Count 1, which was criminal conspiracy for all three defendants.

A tampering with evidence charge regarding a handgun, was also dismissed for Smith.

Tuesday's notes from court:

STATE RESTS ITS CASE (around 2:45)

2:35 pm: COURT DISMISSED COUNT 1 (criminal conspiracy - all three defendants), and TAMPERING WITH EVIDENCE (Smith)

Deputy Gary Daugherty was called to the stand after Dr. Jason Brashir (who was on call at Johnson City Medical Center the day of the crash). Daugherty testified that he remembers everything up until the point the car hit him. Tears began forming in Daugherty's eyes, when he told the jury the first thing he remembers saying after waking up in JCMC, was that he couldn't see. He went on to say that was because of the blood in his eyes. Daugherty testified that he tried to stop the pursuit with e spike strips(which he was given clearance to do) so no one else would get hurt.

Stephens and McGraw were seen wiping away tears in court during Daugherty's testimony.

Daugherty was in rehab for 8 months, returned to work around 3 months ago, after being out of work for 13 months. He is still not filled "cleared" by Dr. Brashir, even though he's not currently in rehab. Daugherty was visibly emotional, crying during testimony.

The jury was showed pictures of the injuries.

Witness Lt. William Greg, of the Washington County Tennessee, TN Criminal Investigations Office, was off work the day of the wreck but decided to come in after he heard what was going on. Greg testified there was actually a round in the firearm chamber that was found. Photographic evidence backed that up in court as well. Firearm was sent off to TBI for investigation. TBI was unable go identify fingerprints from the handgun. An ATF trace revealed the handgun was not registered to any of the three defendants.

Evidence presented during Reserve Officer Rodney Hall's testimony included a photo with a yellow flag of where the firearm was found. Location where firearm was thrown out the window and landed, was around 75-100 yards from where Deputy Daugherty was struck . That distance was estimated by Hall during his testimony.


11:14 a.m. DA Tony Clark says there's other definitions that play into criminal conspiracy. He's looking at actions AFTER the alleged aggravated robbery... Support conspiracy that they knew what was going on.

Investigator Sam Phillips took a statement from Dalvin Stephens that said...

"I went to the left side of the officer. He backed up and I hit him." Stephens said in the statement that he then panicked, kept driving, tried to pull into a driveway and instead hit a tree, then all three got out of the car and began to run. Stephens said in the statement, "My girl Ashley was tired, and I gave up." Stephens says McGraw was scared, and screaming that she shouldn't have come.

(McGraw was sitting in the front passenger seat at the time of the crash.)


As of 10:30 a.m., 4 witnesses have testified.

Deputy Robert Warf* (spelling?) testified at if he would have had a taser, he would have taxed McGraw. She didn't want to follow orders when they were arresting her following the crash. Said he was surprised after being involved in running over a law enforcement officer she wouldn't then listen to law enforcement. McGraw had told Warf not to point his gun at her. Wouldn't get on the ground, then finally got on her knees. Said she was pregnant.

Investigator William Rhodes:
Smith was walking along the road after the crash when law enforcement approached. Watched dash cam video where he had his hands in the air. Was cooperative. Stephens was said to be cooperative as well. Smith asked repeatedly if the officer (Daugherty) was okay. This too is on video.

Investigator Jared Taylor, with Washington County Sheriff's Office testified that from the point Daugherty was hit, to where he landed was 77 feet. They used a scuff mark from his shoe to help determine the point of impact.

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