A Putnam County man was convicted Friday night of second-degree murder for hitting and killing another man with his car last year.
A jury found Morgan Creed Vandergriff guilty after deliberating for about three hours Friday, ending a four-day trial at the Putnam County Judicial Building, in Winfield. Jurors returned a verdict to Putnam Circuit Judge Joseph Reeder at about 9:30 p.m.
Vandergriff faces between 10 and 40 years in prison when he is sentenced. He was originally charged with first-degree murder, but prosecutors asked Reeder on Friday to allow jurors to consider lesser charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter against Vandergriff.
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jennifer Scragg Karr and Vandergriff’s defense attorneys all agreed Vandergriff struck 38-year-old John Maynard with his 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier at about 3:45 p.m. on May 9, 2018.
Vandergirff’s attorneys, Brian Escue and Carl Holster, said Vandergriff accidentally struck Maynard after Maynard threw a beer at Vandergriff’s car, causing him to lose control of his vehicle.
Karr said Vandergriff struck Maynard with his car after Maynard yelled at him for driving past two stopped school buses in Ranch Lake Estates, in Scott Depot.
Putnam County Sheriff Deputy Tyson Edwards testified that deputies received conflicting reports as to what happened when they responded to Ranch Lake Estates on May 9, 2018.
Edwards said they received reports of a car that had crashed into a vehicle, as well as reports of a hit and run.
Witnesses reported to police that Vandergriff illegally drove around two school buses and drove his car to the right side of the road and struck Maynard, pushing him 20 feet away from where he had been standing, according to the criminal complaint filed in Putnam Magistrate Court.
One of Maynard’s neighbors testified this week that she saw Maynard almost “do a cartwheel” when the vehicle struck him.
Evidence presented during the trial indicated the vehicle struck Maynard’s legs, causing him to fall forward and strike his head on the windshield of the car. He was declared dead at the scene.
Neighbors testified they did not see Maynard throw a beer at Vandergriff’s vehicle.
Vandergriff remained in the area near the scene, and a deputy took him into custody that evening.