Man gets 10 years for Rock Hill hit-and-run

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comNovember 19, 2013 

Jeremy Mobley

— An “absolute miracle” who rode motorcycles and fought fires sat with family in a York courtroom Tuesday afternoon and learned that the man who hit him with his car and then left him for dead on a busy Rock Hill street six months ago will spend the next decade in prison.

A Circuit Court judge sentenced Jeremy Cord Mobley, 25, to 10 years in prison despite a prosecutor’s recommendation for five years and a defense lawyer’s plea for mercy. Mobley pleaded guilty to hit-and-run resulting in great bodily injury, which carries a maximum 10-year sentence.

On May 8, Joshua Reynolds, 23, was hospitalized with brain injuries, a compound fracture in his leg, broken ribs and a collapsed lung after police said he was hit by a car while riding his Yamaha motorcycle at the intersection of Mount Gallant and Celanese roads. When police arrived, they found Reynolds lying in the roadway.

He was taken to the hospital while police spoke with several witnesses and found a piece of the car’s grill on the street, said Ryan Newkirk, the assistant York County solicitor prosecuting Mobley and his co-defendant, Christopher Lamar Franklin. Authorities managed to use the part to identify the suspect vehicle as a champagne 2000 Infiniti.

Witnesses confirmed that an Infiniti drove away from the scene and told police that a man matching Mobley’s description got out the car and switched seats with Franklin, who then drove away, Newkirk said. The next morning, a police officer on patrol found fresh tire marks on Farlow Street that appeared suspicious. He followed the tracks and found the Infiniti parked behind a house. Officers found Franklin, 31, inside.

Police charged Franklin and learned the car was registered to Mobley. Mobley turned himself in to authorities. He and Franklin gave statements implicating each other, Newkirk said. Both men were charged with hit-and-run resulting in great bodily injury and leaving the scene of an accident.

Franklin was additionally charged with driving under suspension and operating an uninsured motor vehicle, police said. Mobley faced additional charges for operating an uninsured motor vehicle, driving under suspension and operating a vehicle with a suspended tag. He has since pleaded guilty to those charges in civil court.

Newkirk said Mobley admitted to police that he had been drinking and smoking the night of the accident. His prior convictions include driving under the influence, possession of marijuana, unlawful possession of prescription pills and forgery.

Meanwhile, Reynolds fought for his life in a Charlotte hospital, where doctors expected the worst, said his mother, Sandy Reynolds, who added that she began preparing herself to care for her son the rest of his life.

Doctors placed Reynolds, a firefighter with the Lesslie Volunteer Fire Department, into a medically induced coma to reduce swelling in his brain, his mother said. By the end of May, he began responding to his family members. Newkirk played a video of Reynolds in a hospital bed grabbing hold of a beaded string to help enhance his muscle memory.

Today, “he’s walking, talking and driving,” Sandy Reynolds said, “and just yesterday, was able to go back to work.”

Doctors rated Reynolds’ injuries as an 8 on a scale of 10 gauging the seriousness of brain injuries and the likelihood a patient will recover, Newkirk said.

“This should have been a case about Joshua Reynolds’ death,” Newkirk told Circuit Court Judge Mark Hayes. “It is an absolute miracle that he is sitting in the courtroom.”

On Tuesday, Reynolds sat beside his supporters, his mother and father as he listened to Newkirk tell the judge about doctors placing a titanium rod in his leg and about the 43 pounds he’s lost. Still, “it is not OK,” Sandy Reynolds said about Mobley and Franklin leaving the scene. “It will never be OK.”

Sandy Reynolds called Mobley and Franklin “heartless, insensitive cowards.”

“We’ll never understand why they chose to leave him lying there,” she said. “Decent people don’t do that.”

Relatives did not want to hear an apology on Tuesday, she said, because they would not believe there would be “any meaning behind” Mobley’s words.

“For them, to say ‘I’m sorry’ means nothing to us,” she said.

“My client has constantly been asking about (Joshua) Reynolds’ recovery, how he’s doing,” said Michael Matthews, Mobley’s Rock Hill attorney. “He’s also constantly told me of his remorse. He was scared … and wish(es) (he and Franklin) stayed.”

“We’re asking for mercy,” Matthews said. “He did not intend for this to happen. He got scared and ran.”

“He was getting off work that night” when he saw “the motorcycle coming from nowhere,” said Joann Gordon, his mother.

Mobley, who holds an associate degree in business from York Technical College, addressed Reynolds and his family, asking for their forgiveness.

“It was never my intention to bring any harm to anyone,” he said. “If I could take back everything that night, I would. I can’t explain what happened. What I did, it was wrong.”

Mobley, currently serving two separate probations for his drug and forgery convictions, requested that his probation run concurrent with his current case, his lawyer said. That’s the only recommendation Hayes accepted.

“This is one of those rare occasions where I disagree with everyone in the courtroom,” Hayes said. “At the time of the accident, he should not have been driving. That’s a clear violation of his probation.”

Both families declined to comment after the hearing. Franklin’s case is pending.

Jonathan McFadden •  803-329-4082

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