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Heath case ends in hung jury

  • The intersection of Allenstown Road and School Street looking north, where retired teacher Michael Phelps was killed on his motorcycle after being hit by a car in June 2014. Monitor file



Monitor staff
Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The trial of a young Concord woman accused of negligent homicide in the death of retired teacher Michael Phelps has ended in a hung jury.

Attorneys on both sides said jurors were unable to reach a verdict Tuesday after several hours of deliberation. Prosecutor George Waldron vowed to retry the case.

The driver, Jordan Heath, 24, faced one Class B felony count of negligent homicide. She claims her brakes gave out as she approached a busy intersection in Allenstown on June 30, 2014, leaving her helpless as her Ford Focus blew through a red light and broadsided Phelps, who was turning left on his motorcycle. He died later that day.

Each side declined to comment about the outcome. Heath’s defense had planned to call a crash expert who reviewed the evidence and determined that the Focus, which she was borrowing from her mother’s boyfriend, had a mechanical defect. The rear brakes were leaking brake fluid and would never have passed inspection, according to attorney Hanna Kinne.

Waldron disputed the finding and said Heath never tried to stop. He noted that Heath had used the brakes earlier in the day and presented testimony from one witness who claimed she never saw Heath’s rear brake lights flash as she went through the intersection.

Waldron said he planned to interview jurors when their names are released in 30 days.

Phelps was a cancer survivor and a former teacher at Rundlett Middle School and Concord High School.

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, jblackman@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)