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Retrial begins in deputy assault case
Man allegedly struck deputy with his car
Chanju Dryden

Jury selection began Monday for the retrial of a Gainesville man whose 2007 conviction for aggravated assault on a police officer was overturned by the Georgia Supreme Court.

Chanju Dryden, 31, is on trial in Hall County Superior Court, accused of striking and seriously injuring Hall County Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Thomason with his car in January 2006.

Dryden was convicted of the assault in February 2007 after a four-day trial. Judge Kathlene Gosselin later sentenced Dryden to 18 years in prison.

Last year, the Georgia Supreme Court reversed Dryden’s convictions for aggravated assault and serious injury by motor vehicle/reckless driving, saying the jury’s verdict was "mutually exclusive," meaning a guilty verdict on one count logically excludes a finding of guilt on the other.

The high court noted that aggravated assault can be intentional or unintentional, while reckless driving is a charge based on criminal negligence, not an intentional act.

Prosecutors are expected to argue this week that during an undercover drug bust at the Citgo Kangaroo on E.E. Butler Parkway, Dryden steered his Mitsubishi Gallant at the deputy while trying to flee.

Thomason was pinned between two cars in a collision that shattered his left leg. He was hospitalized for 12 days and had five surgeries.

In Dryden’s first trial, his defense attorney argued that another drug agent caused the injury when his truck struck Dryden’s car. The defense also sought to show that Dryden may have thought he was being robbed by other drug dealers.

Potential jurors were asked about their knowledge of the case during individual questioning Monday.