Defense attorney Edward McGlone filed a motion with the court of appeals on behalf of his client Cody Wright after a bench trial in Clay Superior Court on Sept. 16, 2008.
The trial focused on a traffic incident that occurred on May 25, 2007.
According to court documents, at a time when local schools were letting out for the day and it was allegedly beginning to rain, Clay County Sheriff's Deputy Chris Robinson reported that he clocked Wright driving eastbound on County Road 1000 North at 62 miles-per-hour (mph) in a location officially posted at 35 mph.
Akers believed the speed of Wright's vehicle, coupled with the fact children could have been injured had he lost control of his vehicle and slammed into a school building or another vehicle traveling in the vicinity, was sufficient evidence to order a guilty verdict.
Examining Wright's prior driving record to the reckless driving charges while determining a sentence, in open court at the time of sentencing, Akers said he felt it showed Wright's propensity to ignore basic traffic laws and, therefore, warranted a maximum sentence.
The State of Indiana allows a judge to sentence a defendant to 180 days incarceration upon conviction of a class B misdemeanor reckless driving charge, which is what Akers did.
At the end of the trial, McGlone argued the Clay County Prosecutor's Office failed to provide adequate evidence to prove his client's guilt, which is why he appealed the judgment.
The Indiana Court of Appeals only reviews the probative evidence supporting a judgment and whether the facts presented during a trial proves a defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If there is substantial evidence to support the conviction, the court of appeals will not set aside a verdict.
According to a Memorandum Decision filed by the court of appeals on Feb. 17, the transcripts from the bench trial were used to determine a ruling.
In order to prove reckless driving, the State was required to prove Wright recklessly drove a motor vehicle at such an unreasonably high rate of speed under the circumstances as to endanger the safety or the property of others.
While undisputed evidence clearly showed Wright was driving almost twice the legal speed limit, the court of appeals determined no evidence was presented proving he endangered the safety or property of others.
The judges overturned the verdict in the case because the evidence only shows the officer was concerned for the safety of children who were "about to be let out of school" and there was no proof that anyone was present and in actual danger at the time of Wright's speeding offense.
Wright is currently serving seven years at the Indiana Department of Correction for a conviction of class B felony resisting law enforcement resulting in (a traffic accident causing) the death of his girlfriend, Brandee Siples, Nov. 17, 2007.
Although Wright pled guilty to his involvement in the accident during open court proceedings in Putnam County Circuit Court in May 2008, which took place before the Clay County bench trial, information from those proceedings could not be legally used during his bench trial in September 2008.