Aaron Matthew Dunagan, who was released from prison after appealing a conviction in connection with a 2004 wreck that left Candice Bendek severely disabled, will be re-tried in Floyd County Superior Court sometime in early April 2010.

Dunagan was convicted in 2006 of reckless driving, serious injury by reckless driving and failure to obey a traffic control device in connection with a Feb. 17, 2004, crash that temporarily left Bendek in a coma.

The Georgia Supreme Court reversed the Superior Court’s conviction of Dunagan in May 2008, and the state Court of Appeals vacated its previous judgment that evidence about the safety of the intersection was correctly excluded from testimony when Dunagan was tried.

According to the most recent opinion issued by the Court of Appeals, the trial court erred when it granted the prosecution’s motion to exclude evidence that the intersection at Burlington Drive and Ga. 53, where the wreck occurred, was dangerous.

“Because evidence that the intersection was inherently dangerous was Dunagan’s sole defense in refuting evidence of his criminal negligence, its exclusion was harmful error,” the opinion stated.

Changes were made to make the intersection safer.

Dunagan was originally sentenced to serve 10 years in prison, later reduced by two years.

He had been incarcerated at Wilcox State Prison on the charges from 2006 until May 2008 when Judge J. Bryant Durham Jr. granted a $25,000 appeal bond in Floyd County

ROME NEWS TRIBUNE