More than four years later, a man who left the scene of a crash after striking two men was convicted by a Manatee County jury.
Gary L. Roche, 50, was found guilty Wednesday of leaving the scene of a crash with death and leaving the scene of the crash with serious bodily injury.
The charges stem from an Oct. 14, 2012, incident in which Roche was driving northbound on U.S. 41 near 51st Avenue Drive West around 2:38 a.m., according to the probable cause affidavit filed in 2014. Roche’s vehicle struck two men attempting to cross the road, according to a release from State Attorney Ed Brodsky’s office.
Shadeed B. Wright, 33, of Palmetto, died as a result of the collision and Anthony A. Johnson of Bradenton, age 22 at the time, suffered serious bodily harm, according to the release.
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Court records show Roche was going between 39 and 53 mph at the time of the collision.
Roche fled the scene. A witness told law enforcement they saw him involved in separate crash on Manatee Avenue, and Roche was later found by officials.
There was evidence that Roche was impaired, according to court documents, which showed he had a blood-alcohol content of .126 percent. Court records show Roche pleaded no contest in January to a first-degree misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence.
A crash investigation showed that Wright and Johnson did not cross U.S. 41 at an intersection or crosswalk and it was “very dark,” but due to the impact and damage to the vehicle, Roche should have known an incident occurred, according to court records. It was also discovered that Wright’s BAC that night was .119 and he tested positive for cannaboids, records said.
The jury trial, held in Manatee County Court, took place Tuesday and Wednesday. Sentencing is scheduled for a later date.
Roche faces a maximum sentence of up to 30 years, but two years is the minimum mandatory in the case.
The lead prosecutor, Assistant State Attorney Charles Near, said in the release that he hopes the verdict will bring closure to Johnson, his family and Wright’s family. He also thanked the Bradenton Police Department and the Florida Highway Patrol for their efforts.