ATLANTA (AP) – A judge Tuesday dismissed charges against a Georgia state lawmaker, saying his failure to call 911 when a friend called him about a fatal wreck was not a crime.

Polk County Superior Court’s chief judge Stephen Schuster ruled that Rep. Trey Kelley could not be charged with reckless behavior because prosecutors did not allege that the Cedartown Republican had committed an underlying crime.

“No reading of the Hit-and-Run Act or the Act on Reckless Conduct leaves a reasonable person with the impression that a disinterested third party who is absent from a car accident and later learns of the alleged accident will, under the Reckless Conduct Act, immediately To contact 911 ”, wrote Schuster.

Ralph “Ryan” Dover III met Eric Keais on September 13, 2019 in Cedartown with his SUV. Instead of calling 911, he called his friend Kelley, officials said. Kelley, in turn, called Cedartown Police Chief Jamie Newsome at home, according to authorities. An officer was sent to the area unaware that anyone could have been injured and eventually found Keais lying in a ditch, seriously injured. Keais died shortly afterwards of his injuries.

Kelley, who represents all of Polk and parts of Floyd and Haralson counties, was charged with reckless behavior last year and alleged that he incorrectly failed to report the crash. Dover has been charged with hit and miss and reckless behavior.

Schuster said prosecutors were unduly stretching the law to create a “judicial crime” by combining some elements of the hit and run law with the reckless behavior law, although Kelley was not charged with the crime.

“The hit-and-run statute does not apply to Kelley because he was not the driver of the accident vehicle, in the vehicle or at the scene of the accident at the time of the accident,” wrote Schuster. “The law doesn’t oblige Kelley to go to law enforcement.”

The charges against Dover are still pending. There is also a federal lawsuit by Eric Keais’ father Manfred Keais seeking damages for Dover, Kelley, Newsome and the city of Cedartown. The defendants deny wrongdoing and are currently trying to get the case closed.

Kelley’s attorney Lester Tate said in a statement that the verdict was “a long-awaited confirmation that Trey Kelley did nothing wrong”.

“We would first like to extend our condolences and prayers to the family and friends of Eric Keais, who tragically died in September 2019,” said Tate. “But we always said and always believed that Rep. Kelley broke no law that night. He was not in the car when Mr Keais was involved in the accident and when he arrived at the scene of the accident, he did not know what was hit. “

Kelley resigned from his post as House Majority Leader that year after he was indicted and his wife filed for divorce.

A lawyer for Manfred Keais did not immediately respond to an email asking for comment.

___

Follow Jeff Amy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jeffamy.