Dickson Found Guilty in Double Fatal Wreck – Sentenced to 50 Yrs

JAMES THOMAS DICKSONA Canon man accused in the fatal wreck last year that killed two people and injured a third was found guilty Thursday on all counts.

On Thursday, a Franklin County jury found James Thomas “Tommy” Dickson guilty of  four counts of homicide by vehicle in the first degree, two counts of serious injury by vehicle, possession of Schedule IV controlled substances, driving under the influence of controlled substances, and several misdemeanor DUI charges.

He was indicted by a Franklin County Grand Jury in October, 2012.

Troopers with the Georgia State Patrol testified during the three-day trial that on the afternoon of April 16, 2012, Dickson, 43 was heading north on 17 from Royston when he crossed the center line and hit a pick up pulling a trailer head on.

The driver of the pick-up, identified as 80-year old Julia Sikes Powell of Reidsville, GA, was injured and her husband, 77-year old Bobby William Bland, was air lifted to Greenville Memorial Hospital where he later died.

Behind their truck was another pick-up driven by  43-year old Joey Hart of Hull, GA.  Hart tried to swerve to avoid the head-on collision but was also hit by Dickson. 

Hart lost control of his pick up, skidded across the northbound lane and down a 30-foot embankment.  He died at the scene.

Before sentencing  Thursday afternoon, members of Hart’s family took the stand.

Hart’s wife Tina said in the 14 months since her husband was killed, life her and three children has been difficult emotionally, financially, and spiritually.

Hart’s youngest son, 18-year old Chase Hart, looked over at Dickson and said he forgave him, but that he had lost , “the best coach and dad he would ever have.’”

In handing down the sentence, Superior Court Judge Michael Hancock cited verses from the Bible including the story of Jesus on the cross with the two thieves on either side of him.

He said Jesus could have freed the repentant thief from his cross, but he didn’t because the thief, though forgiven, was still accountable to the laws of the society he lived in.

The Judge then sentenced Dickson to a total of 50 years in prison.

In closing arguments Thursday morning, Northern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Parks White called Dickson quote, “a floating human landmine on April 16th.”

White also listed Dickson’s litany of DUI arrests and traffic violations dating back to 1987, one involving a hit and run, another happening in February 2012, also on SR17.

Afterwards, White said he was pleased with the verdict and the sentence.

 “I’m very happy,” Parks said. “I appreciate the hard work of the Georgia State Patrol, the work of the GBI, the work of the Franklin County’s Sheriff’s office and the Canon Police Department. And I appreciate the work of the judge and jury in this case in finding the right result and ultimately holding Mr. Dickson accountable for his actions.”

White called the verdict and sentence  “wholly appropriate in light of the incredible amount of cross-section of pain that (Mr. Dickson) imposed across the community.”

But Defense attorney Charles Desiderio told the jury in his closing argument there was no evidence presented that proved Dickson veered into the northbound lane and he implied that Powell and Hart may have been responsible for the accident because they were not wearing seatbelts.

After the verdict and sentence was handed down, Desiderio said he wasn’t surprised.

 “We did the best we could. We both did our best and it didn’t look from the beginning and I told my client that,” Desiderio said. “To be honest I believe my client. I don’t believe he caused the accident. I believe what he told me.”

Dickson said in his testimony that Hart’s white pick up crossed the double yellow line and hit his vehicle.  He said he was then struck by Powell’s pick up and pushed back down the hill where his car came to rest.

Dickson has 30 days to file a motion to appeal his sentence.

Both Desiderio and co-counsel Margaret Dyal said they would not be representing Dickson in any appeal.