Judge rejects 'youthful offender' status in hit and run case

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BRATTLEBORO — A Landmark College student charged with hitting a pedestrian in Dummerston, seriously injuring him and leaving him by the side of the road, will be tried in criminal court.

The attorney for Jakob F. Morrissey, 21, of Philadelphia, had tried to have Morrissey's felony case transferred to family court, arguing that Morrissey was a "youthful offender." Vermont law allows people under 21 to ask for such designation.

Morrissey is charged with hitting Jeffrey Dorsey, 53, of Putney, who was walking along Route 5 on Saturday, Oct. 12. Dorsey received serious injuries, including five broken ribs, a broken left ankle, a partially collapsed lung, bleeding to a kidney, and nerve damage to his left arm that left the arm paralyzed, court records stated. Dorsey also received scrapes and bruising to his back, side and arms.

Windham County State's Attorney Tracy Kelly Shriver said the decision Thursday by Judge Katherine Hayes was appropriate.

"This case is most appropriately handled in the criminal division," she said.

According to court records, Dorsey was walking north along Route 5 toward Putney when he was hit from behind and flipped over the guardrail.

He said when he came to, he dragged himself back to the roadway for help, and a man - later identified as Morrissey - had stopped. He denied that he had hit Dorsey, but said he would go for help, but never came back, investigators said.

Morrissey's white Mercedes SUV received substantial damage to the right front corner, windshield and passenger side mirror.

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Police were able to track down Morrissey through a combination of eyewitness descriptions, a barcode on a broken part left at the scene and social media.

"Dorsey informed me that he didn't know what had happened but came to his senses while lying on the opposite side of the guardrail," Vermont State Police Cpl. Brian Turner. While Morrissey's case was transferred initially to family court, Hayes' decision transfers it back to criminal court.

Morrissey's attorney, Brad Myerson of Manchester, declined to comment on why he requested that Morrissey's case be handled as a youthful offender in family court, which is usually held behind closed doors.

"I don't feel comfortable talking about it," he said.

He said that state law had been expanded to include up to age 22.

"It's an awful situation," he said of the accident. 'I think there's no dispute about that. There are a lot of facts need to be uncovered," he said.

"My client is a sensitive young man and there are serious consequences and he understands that," he said. Morrissey is still a student at Landmark College.

Contact Susan Smallheer at ssmallheer@reformer.com or at 802 254-2311, ext. 154.

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