The investigation into Jan Morgan”s accident hasn”t been “reopened,” but it does continue.
On Tuesday, Sixteenth District Attorney Forrest Allgood corrected a report published Monday which claimed he had decided to reexamine the possibility of bringing charges against Robbie Norton, the Cedar Bluff woman who struck Morgan with her car while Morgan cycled with a friend May 22 in Clay County.
“Nothing has been reopened. I don”t investigate things. The police investigate,” said Allgood.
To clarify, Allgood stated he sent members of his staff to interview witnesses of the crash which sent Morgan to the critical care unit of North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo with extensive injuries. He said statements from the witnesses and statements contained in the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol”s report on the accident were incongruous and required clarification.
The decision on whether or not to charge Norton, Allgood said, rests in the hands of the MHSP. Trooper Brian Mobley, public information officer for the MHSP, said the investigation into the crash is not complete and confirmed the MHSP is the agency responsible for pressing charges if any are warranted.
Mobley said the incident report will not be released to the media. He didn”t know if charges are being considered against Norton, although Allgood has advised the MHSP that he saw no basis for felony charges.
“It”s difficult for (people) to accept, and I understand that,” said Allgood of the absence of felony charges against Norton. “People get killed in car wrecks every day and nobody gets charged with a felony. Somebody is almost always at fault, but it doesn”t mean they”re culpably negligent.”
That term, “culpably negligent,” is the key, according to Allgood. He says there”s no evidence Norton was drunk or impaired due to drugs at the time of the crash, nor did she leave the scene, although some witnesses said she attempted to do so. And without culpable negligence, which amounts to intentional recklessness, he said Norton is guilty only of a tragic mistake and violating the three-feet law.
“This woman was obeying all the rules of the road except one, she failed to give a three-foot bubble (to the cyclists),” said Allgood.
While the most recent interviews with witnesses haven”t been transcribed, Allgood reiterated that any charges will come from the MHSP, not his office. He said the MHSP would have to convince a judge to issue a warrant for Norton”s arrest, not the DA.
With regard to one witness” claim that Norton ran over Morgan”s head after the initial impact, Allgood said he has yet to see any evidence of that in the existing statements.
On Monday, Morgan”s husband, David Morgan, posted a blog entry stating Morgan was being moved to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. The Shepherd Center specializes in caring for patients with spinal cord or brain injuries.
Jason Browne was previously a reporter for The Dispatch.