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Georgia high court gets Gainesville case

Man received 18 years for hitting officer with car

POSTED: March 4, 2009 11:47 p.m.
/For The Times

Chanju Dryden

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The Supreme Court of Georgia will hear arguments next week in the appeal of a Gainesville man who was convicted for severely injuring an undercover officer with his car.

Chanju Dryden is serving an 18-year prison sentence for the January 2006 assault on Multi-Agency Narcotic Squad Agent Mark Thomason. Thomason’s leg was crushed when he was pinned against a car by Dryden’s Mitsubishi Galant as Dryden fled an undercover drug bust.

Dryden’s appellate attorney, Troy Millikan, claimed in court filings that his client deserves a new trial because his convictions for aggravated assault on a police officer and serious injury by vehicle were "mutually exclusive." Verdicts may be mutually exclusive if one crime requires a jury to find criminal intent while the other crime does not.

The aggravated assault conviction would require a jury to believe Dryden intended to injure the agent, while the serious injury by vehicle would be based on negligence, Millikan argues.

Prosecutors have countered in court filings that the two guilty verdicts are not mutually exclusive and are based on two separate incidents.

The aggravated assault occurred when Dryden made eye contact with Thomason and steered his car toward him, prosecutors said. Dryden unintentionally committed the negligent crime of injury by vehicle when he drove recklessly from the gas station, prosecutors said.

Justices will hear arguments in the case on Monday in Atlanta.

Dryden, who was found guilty in Hall County Superior Court in 2007, was one of four people convicted in a three-month span for hitting or trying to hit police officers with their cars in separate incidents.



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