Coffee County-- A jury has decided the fate of a Coffee County woman charged in a 2003 ATV accident that killed five kids.
Prosecutors charged Amanda Troupe with a 20 count indictment including 15 counts of homicide by vehicle in the September 20, 2003 ATV crash that killed Megan Nelson, Kayla and Dustin Varnedore, Lindsay Joyner and Courtney Arsenault. Heather Bass was the sole survivor of the crash.
Late Saturday afternoon, the jury came back with a verdict of not guilty on the homicide by vehicle charges. Troupe was found guilty of Driving under the Influence and Driving under the influence less safe. The maximum sentences for those misdemeanor crimes is a year maximum for each.
In closing statements the defense maintained the prosecutions case is based solely on sympathy, something jurors were instructed not to consider in their decision. Defense Attorney Tom Pujadas said, "What is the point for these gory photographs, just to insight and enflame emotion, passion and insight sympathy."
The prosecution told jurors this case it about the victims. District Attorney Rick Curry said, "Amanda said she would never do anything to hurt the children, yet she doesn't consider drinking alcoholic beverages and driving on the roadway to be something that would put children at harm."
The defense claims Troupe is being used as a scapegoat and told jurors, the children and parents are just as responsible. Pujadas said, "Right there in front of all the parents, all six of them piled onto that ATV and took off." Prosecutors disagreed.
"Alcohol is the cause of this and there's no one to blame, nobody forced Amanda Troupe to drink those beers, she that was a conscious act by her on that day, she then got in the car and drove," said Curry.
Curry explained to jurors that the state has no legal ground to charge the parents and the children are deceased, and Amanda Troupe needs to be held responsible for her actions.
"You saw her attitude, she hold no responsibility whatsoever, no responsibility whatsoever in this," said Curry. The defense urged jurors to make their decision simply on the facts, which they say show, she tried to avoid the ATV, she was driving the speed limit, and it's not her fault.
"If you sift through all the inconsistencies, the contradictions and don't let the state try to convince you to decide this case on sympathy or emotion, that's not part of it," said Pujudas.
Troupe's sentencing will be scheduled for a later date. She originally faced a maximum of 91 years in jail with the 20-count indictment.