Prosecutors seek to drop murder charge in teen's death

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Henry County, AL (WTVY) Prosecutors won't take a man to trial for murder, as first planned. Instead, they will send the case back to a Henry County Grand Jury in hopes of securing a manslaughter indictment.

Family submitted photo.

Investigators say 30-year old Jeremy Carruthers' car swerved off a rural Henry County road on July 27, 2016. The vehicle hit 15-year Cody Jenkins, killing him instantly.

The Headland High School student was struck in his yard while retrieving trash cans from the side of the road.

“He had been hit so hard it actually tore his shirt from his body,” remembers Lydia Gordon, Cody's mother.

State troopers claim Carruthers drove at excessive speeds without regard for human life. They also say he possessed synthetic marijuana when officers took him to jail.

However, the murder indictment that prosecutors want tossed does not implicate drug use.

(Those prosecutors) are afraid they can't prove the murder,” Ms. Gordon told WTVY.

District Attorney Pat Jones, as a matter of policy, does not comment on pending cases.

However, Carruthers' attorney, Jim Parkman, calls Jones decision proper under Alabama law. Like Ms. Gordon, but for different reasons, Parkman would have preferred the murder charge stay intact. .

“I thought we had a lot better chance (of a not guilty verdict) because (prosecutors) would have had to prove my client intended to kill someone. We did our research and there is not a single case in Alabama where either swerving or speed has resulted in a murder conviction,” he said.

Though manslaughter will be more difficult to defend, Parkman is still confident a jury will return a not guilty verdict.

He said he has seen nothing to indicate Carruthers was under the influence of illegal drugs when he lost control of his car.

Ms. Gordon concedes prosecutors won't reconsider. However, she hopes attention brought to this case will sway them to be tougher on these type crimes in the future.

“He meant to hurt somebody that day,” she said of Carruthurs.

The Henry County Grand Jury next meets in September. If it indicts Carruthers for manslaughter--and that is almost certain--the case could go to trial in January 2020.