No contest plea cancels re-trial 2015.06.17

A Morenci resident pled no contest last week to his alleged role in a traffic accident that occurred a year ago in Fulton County.

Brad Pike, 38, of N. Summit Street, Morenci, offered a no contest plea June 11 at the Fulton County Court of Common Pleas from a charge of failure to stop after an accident. The incident occurred on Fulton County Road 23 southwest of Morenci on June 15 of last year. Pike was arraigned Nov. 19, but fought the charge at a trial in December. Jurors were initially split on the case, with the majority against convicting, but the trial ended in a hung jury after only two jurors were unable to establish guilt. Pike was to face a re-trial June 17.

Because of a serious injury to a victim resulting from the incident, Pike was charged with a fifth degree felony which calls for a six to 12 month prison sentence. Alternately, explained Fulton County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Paul Kennedy, the judge might choose to sentence Pike to community control and that could include a smaller amount of jail time, if any at all.

A pre-sentencing investigation was ordered through the Adult Probation Department and once that is complete, a sentencing date will be scheduled. That process typically takes six weeks, Kennedy said.

At this point, Pike has not served any jail time, Kennedy said, because he initially turned himself in and was released on bond.

The incident occurred on the night of June 15 after Tyler James of Morenci had a flat tire while driving on County Road 23. He called a friend, Tyler Arnett, for assistance and a portable air compressor was brought to the scene. While the tire was being repaired, a car approached from the south and struck James, causing injuries that led to a lengthy rehabilitation process. The compressor was also hit and that struck Arnett. The vehicle continued north without stopping.

Based on a description of the car, the county prosecutor alleged that it may have belonged to Pike. In addition, serial numbers found on a piece of debris along the road matched Pike's vehicle.

On Aug. 10 of last year, leaflets were distributed in a portion of Morenci seeking information about a gray 2012 Honda Civic with damage to the front driver's side.

James suffered a ruptured spleen, a collapsed lung and a fractured skull, and two bones were broken in his left leg. He was hospitalized for a month and then began a lengthy rehabilitation process.

No civil lawsuit was filed, however, James received a cash settlement from Pike's insurance company.