Hobbs found not guilty

MANCHESTER – Travis Hobbs, the 21-year-old Mont Vernon man charged in connection with the December hit-and-run accident that killed Amherst resident John Bachman, was found not guilty on all charges Friday, Nov. 21.

In a statement through his attorney, Eric Wilson, Hobbs said he appreciates the jury’s verdict, but will never get over the tragedy.

“Travis and his family want to express their sincere sorrow to the Bachman family,” he said.

Wilson added that he knew from the beginning that Hobbs is a responsible young man.

“I’ve worked with Travis for the last 11 months, and I can tell you he’s a good human being from a very good family. He always took responsibility,” Wilson said.

After about four hours of deliberation, the 12-member jury returned not guilty verdicts on charges of negligent homicide and conduct after an accident, both felonies, and a misdemeanor count of vehicular assault.

Bachman’s widow, Marilyn, and his daughter, Pam McKinney, who attended each day of the trial, showed little emotion as they heard the verdict and walked from the courtroom.

Outside the courtroom, Marilyn Bachman said that she vows to continue her work on getting the word out about the dangers of texting and driving.

“John is not with us here today due to a horrible tragedy. I’m kind of numb right now. … I’ve been numb most of this week,” she said of the trial, which started last Monday.

Assistant County Attorney Charlene Dulac said she echoes Bachman’s sentiments, adding, “Someone is dead. No one wins.”

Dulac said the accident, and trial, should prompt a discussion on the subject of texting and driving and the laws that regulate it.

“The community needs to look at the laws … if they’re adequate or if the Legislature needs to change them,” she said.

The jury’s findings indicate they didn’t agree with prosecutors that Hobbs was criminally negligent when he struck and killed Bachman, who was near the mailbox at the end of his driveway when he was hit. He landed about 15 feet away in the snow, according to testimony, and was conscious for a short time after medical personnel and police arrived.

Central to testimony in the trial, was whether Hobbs was legally negligent when he took his eyes off the road to correct a text message. Dulac and Wilson addressed the circumstances during their closing arguments.

As the jury foreman finished reading the verdicts, Hobbs rose from that same chair and turned to Wilson. The two embraced, looked at Hobbs’ family and friends who were also hugging, and embraced again.