MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – After deliberating for about an hour Thursday evening, a Hamilton County jury found former Rutherford County sheriff's detective Ron Killings not guilty in the death of 11-year-old Lakeisha White.
Killings was charged with reckless homicide after he hit and killed White as she crossed Bradyville Pike in Murfreesboro in July 2008.
He resigned from the sheriff's department after the accident.
Killings choked back tears on the stand Thursday as he testified about the night that he drove into the Kentucky girl.
Killings said he was on his way to meet a fellow detective doing follow up work on an aggravated burglary case and never saw the girl until it was too late.
“When my airbag exploded, I saw a little girl's face looking at me,” he tearfully recalled. “There was dust everywhere and at that time, I got on my two-way radio, called dispatch and told them I had just hit a little girl.”
Earlier in the week, a Tennessee Highway Patrol officer who investigated the crash told jurors Killings was traveling 62-miles-per-hour at the time of impact and White was hit “mid-stride”, as if she was running.
The officer also said White's body was thrown 150 feet from the point of impact.
Jurors began deliberating after 5 p.m. Thursday and reached their verdict at 6:20 p.m.
Lakeisha White's family left the courtroom devastated.
Kim Coleman, the girl's aunt who watched the entire trial, was so overwhelmed with emotion she could barely walk out of the courthouse.
Killings left the courtroom surrounded by friends and family and declined to comment about the verdict.
Members of the Rutherford County Sheriff's Department also had little to say about what happened.
Sheriff Truman Jones said, “We're delighted for Ron and his family right now. We're very happy with the verdict.”
Defense Attorney Terry Fann said, “We're elated, he's relieved. It's been a long, long journey for us, for him. It's been an uphill battle. It's been a long time since he's got some good news.”
Fann called it “a horrible accident” and said that it's taken a toll on both families.
Prosecutor Joe Baugh said, “Well I'll tell you, I've tried a lot of cases, and I've done this for 35 years, and my experience is that the jury is always right no matter what.”
Even though Killings' attorney said they're pleased with the verdict, there are still two more charges pending against him, including tampering with evidence and filing a false report.
- Feb. 11, 2010: Deputy tearfully recalls night 11-year-old was killed
- Feb. 10, 2010: Neighbor testifies in deputy's trial, says she 'heard' impact
- Feb. 9, 2010: Testimony begins in deputy's reckless homicide trial
- Feb. 8, 2010: Jury selected in former deputy's reckless homicide trial
- Oct. 9, 2009: Former detective's reckless homicide trial on hold
- Sept. 23, 2009: Hamilton Co. jurors to hear reckless homicide trial
- June 8, 2009: Former deputy faces Oct. trial date for fatal crash
- Feb. 4, 2009: Grand jury indicts Rutherford Co. deputy involved in fatal crash
- Oct. 25, 2008: Officers mishandled fatal accident investigation, police say
- Aug. 22, 2008: Acting DA in Lakeisha White case talks with News 2
- Aug. 18, 2008: Girl's family asks for new district attorney
- Aug. 11, 2008: Family files wrongful death suit
- July 18, 2008: Girl, 11, dies after being struck by car