An Edmonson County man accused of striking and killing a pedestrian pleaded guilty Thursday to a misdemeanor charge and was sentenced to 12 months of probation.
James Rance Miller, 24, of Sweeden, pleaded guilty to a charge of fourth-degree assault, according to Miller’s attorney, David Broderick.
Miller had initially been charged with reckless homicide in connection with the death of Tammy Duncan, 49, who was struck on the evening of Oct. 12, 2014, while walking on Little Mountain Road.
The reckless homicide charge, a felony, carried up to five years in prison.
A grand jury indicted Miller in 2016 following an investigation by Kentucky State Police and the case went before an Edmonson Circuit Court jury last year, but a mistrial was declared after the jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict.
“It was a difficult case,” said Edmonson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Blake Chambers. “We wanted him found guilty on the reckless homicide charge, but we respected the jury’s verdict and took that into consideration when resolving the case with this plea agreement.”
At the trial, Chambers argued that Miller may have looked away from the road at his phone at the time of the incident.
The jury, however, came to a 10-2 verdict in favor of acquittal last year, Broderick said.
The defense characterized the death as an accident and presented evidence that Miller was driving from his home at dusk when he struck Duncan, who was wearing dark clothing.
“There was no alcohol, no drugs and no speeding involved,” Broderick said. “We believe this was a very unfortunate accident, we’re glad to get it resolved and we’re sorry for the family’s loss.”
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Miller will be on an ankle monitor for 30 days, but the remainder of his probation will be unsupervised.
“It wasn’t the best outcome, but we were glad to get justice for the Jaggers and Duncan families by having (Miller) admit that he recklessly caused injury by hitting Tammy Duncan with a motor vehicle,” Chambers said.