CARROLL COUNTY, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - Frustrated family members want a new judge and a new prosecutor in hopes of finally putting a four-year-old tragedy in Carroll County behind them.
Driving 90 miles per hour on the night of September 26, 2015, Georgia State Trooper AJ Scott slammed into a car full of teenagers making a left turn in front of him. The girls in the backseat were not wearing seatbelts. Kylie Lindsey and her best friend Bella Chinchilla died. The boys in the front seat, driver Dillon Wall and his buddy Ben Finken, would survive, each though with scars from the accident that are both obvious and haunting.
"Just think about the girls," confided Wall. "Dream about them. Think about them all the time."
Trooper Scott was not running his blue lights. He was not on an emergency call. Gruesome body cam video from Bremen police shows a blood-covered Scott explaining what happened.
"I drug the driver out. I couldn't get to the passengers. They pulled up making this left turn here."
"You didn't see them?" asks the Bremen officer. "I saw them. I tried. I went right when I should have made that left because they were making that left."
The state patrol quickly fired Scott. Later, the state of Georgia settled all possible civil claims with the victims. The families of the two girls received $1 million each. The two boys, $500,000 each. The state also closed off the intersection where the accident happened so no one can make a left turn there again.
But what the families say they desired most was justice. And four years later, it's still as far off as ever.
"I don't understand why we're having to fight this so hard," complained Bella's mom Leslie Woods. "The facts are the facts. He was going 90 miles per hour."
After years of delays, Scott finally stood trial in May, indicted on two counts of felony serious injury by vehicle, two counts of misdemeanor second-degree vehicular homicide, speeding and reckless driving.
What happened next would bring peace to no one.
"I was devastated," admitted Kylie's mom Kellie Lindsey. "We were all devastated."
While the jury deliberated Scott's fate, Chief Superior Court Judge John Simpson ordered a mistrial. He was furious that the state had not shared with the defense an alternative theory. At one point, State Patrol investigators wondered whether Kylie Lindsey could have been leaning or sitting in the front seat and thus blocked Dillon Wall's view of the speeding state trooper. They looked at an enhanced video that showed a white image in the front seat. Kylie had blonde hair.
Driver Wall admitted not remembering details about the accident, but he insisted Kylie was never in the front seat.
"There'd be no reason..." he stressed. "I mean bullcrap."
The other survivor agreed.
"That's so stupid," said Finken. "Why would she be sitting up on the center console when there's a whole row of seats in the back she could have been sitting in which she was, back there with her best friend? Why would she be up with me and Dillon?" He suggested the white image could have been the glow of his cell phone.
If you don't have a PDF plugin, but you can download the PDF file.
But the bigger question: why did Dillon pull out in front of the trooper in the first place?
"I didn't," he insisted. "I pulled out in front of a bullet. I mean, I didn't see him. He was going over the hill going 90."
Judge Simpson would go on to file criminal contempt charges against the prosecutors, accusing them of lying to the defense about that alternative theory. He was also angry that prosecutors played an edited version of the dashcam video during their closing arguments to the jury that had the trooper's speed superimposed on the screen.
Carroll County District Attorney Herb Cranford responded with a motion to remove Simpson as trial judge, fearing bias against prosecutors. The case is now tied up in the appellate courts. There's no new trial date.
In court, prosecutors explained they never shared the alternative theory with the defense because it was quickly discounted after reviewing the facts.
"Shame on them," complained Kylie's mom Kellie Lindsey. "It should have been. We should have known that someone brought a theory that my daughter may have been sitting up front because we could have looked at that and looked into it and put a stop to it because she wasn't."
The families even filed their own motion: asking the Attorney General to appoint a new prosecutor, a request that was denied. But they all say they want a new judge, too, if it means getting the case back to a courtroom sooner.
Dillon Wall must now deal with the defense strategy presented at the trial, questioning whether the four teenagers had been drinking or driving recklessly themselves. Defense attorney Mac Pilgrim ended his cross-examination of Wall by saying he could be excused or "go to what party he wants to go to."
Blood tests showed Dillon had no alcohol in his system, no evidence he was drinking.
"They have literally tried to make everyone think that I had been," he said. "They have facts and I want people to know that wasn't true. Because they're trying to make me look terrible like I was the cause of the girls' death."
After the accident, A.J. Scott won a seat on the Buchanan city council. The retired Marine, who once saw action in Fallujah, is now running for mayor. He did not apologize or take responsibility for the accident when he testified in the May trial.
"We offered him a misdemeanor and sit down and apologize and he refused," remembered Bella's mom Leslie Woods. "And here we are four years later and he's still denying the fact that he was going 90 MPH and he caused this accident."
"He blames Dillon," pointed out Lindsey. "He blames Dillon for making that turn and he blames Dillon and thinks that Dillon ruined HIS life. He lost his job because those kids were out that night and made that turn."
Defense attorney Pilgrim said he's waiting for the "legal squabble" between judge and DA to finish up. If the case is ever set for trial again, Pilgrim said he plans to file a motion for double jeopardy. He still believes the kids themselves are to blame for the accident and, even four years later, his client should be considered a victim as well.