By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia
A Franklin County man receives a 50-year prison sentence after a jury convicts him in connection to a fatal wreck last year that killed two people and injured a third in April 2012.
Thursday, a Franklin County jury found James Thomas “Tommy” Dickson, 43, guilty of two counts of homicide by vehicle in the first degree, along with charges of serious injury by vehicle, possession of Schedule IV controlled substances, driving under the influence of controlled substances, and several misdemeanor DUI charges.
Georgia State Patrol troopers testified that Dickson was heading north on Highway 17 in the Canon area when he crossed the centerline and hit a pick-up truck pulling a trailer head on that was being driven by Julia Sikes Powell, 80, of Reidsville, Georgia.
A passenger in the pick-up and Powell’s husband, Bobby William Bland, 77, of Reidsville, died as a result of the accident, as did Joey Hart, 43, of Hull, Georgia, who was in a pick-up behind Powell’s and attempted to swerve and avoid the collision but was also hit by Dickson.
Powell was injured in the wreck.
In closing arguments Thursday morning, Northern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Parks White called Dickson, “a floating human landmine on April 16th.”
White also listed Dickson’s litany of DUI arrests and traffic violations dating back to 1987.
White said he was pleased with the verdict and the sentence.
“I am very happy,” said White. “I appreciate the hard work of the Georgia State Patrol, the work of the GBI, the work of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and the Canon Police Department. And I appreciate the work of the judge and jury in this case in finding the right result and ultimately holding Mr. Dickson accountable for his actions.”
Dickson testified that Hart’s white pick-up crossed the double yellow line and hit his vehicle, adding he was then struck by Powell’s pick-up and pushed back down the hill where his car came to rest.
Dickson’s defense attorney, Charles Desiderio, added in his closing argument there was no evidence presented that proved Dickson veered into the other lane and he implied that Powell and Hart may have been responsible for the accident because they were not wearing seatbelts.
However, Desiderio said he was not surprised by the result.
“We did the best we could,” said Desiderio. “We both did our best and it did not look good from the beginning and I told my client that. To be honest, I believe my client. I do not believe he caused the accident. I believe what he told me.”
Dickson has 30 days to file a motion to appeal his sentence.
Both Desiderio and co-counsel Margaret Dyal say they would not be representing Dickson in any appeal.