Edgewood police officer hears charges in fatal crash, enters not guilty plea

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MADISON COUNTY (May 19, 2014) – A police officer accused of being high on pills during a fatal crash appeared Monday morning in a Madison County courtroom. FOX59 cameras followed James Foutch as he exited the courtroom, he only said “no comment” when asked about the deadly accident.

A judge read off a list of charges during the initial hearing for Foutch. The Edgewood police officer is suspended without pay following an off-duty crash on April 6 that killed Jesse Sperry. Sperry’s wife, Rebecca, was pregnant at the time of the crash and had to be rushed to the hospital, where doctors performed an emergency C-section. Sperry gave birth to a daughter, Autumn. Both were released from the hospital about three weeks ago.

Tests showed Foutch was under the influence of painkillers and an anti-anxiety drug while he was behind the wheel. He faces six counts, including operating while intoxicated causing death (two counts), reckless homicide, operating while intoxicated causing serious bodily injury (two counts) and criminal recklessness resulting in serious bodily injury.

Foutch pleaded not guilty in court after a judge read the charges to him Monday. The judge mandated several conditions for Foutch’s bond, including reporting to a probation officer and disclosing all prescription medication. He’s not allowed to drive and will have a court-appointed lawyer. The court appointed attorney Evan Broderick. A trial date has been set for November 18th.

Rebecca’s father, John Keefe, said this about the not guilty plea, “I think I would be surprised but the truth will come out in the end. It always does.”

According to a probable cause affidavit, both cars were going westbound on State Road 32 when Foutch’s 2004 Yukon rear-ended the Sperry’s 1996 Buick Century. “The force of the impact sent the Buick off the north side of the roadway and into a utility pole. The Yukon continued westbound and came to rest on the south side of the roadway,” police said.

“Oh my gosh, look at this guy, he is like flying. I think he is going to hit us,” court documents quoted Rebecca Sperry as saying to her husband as she saw Foutch’s Yukon coming up fast in her rearview mirror. The vehicle didn’t swerve to avoid them, and Rebecca Sperry said she thought their Buick rolled at least once after impact.

Jesse Sperry died at the scene. He suffered multiple injuries, including a skull fracture, rib fractures and liver and spleen lacerations. Rebecca Sperry had a laceration to her spleen and broken bones.

Rebecca Sperry is at home recovering with her new baby. Her father, John Keefe, spoke with FOX59 after the court hearing. He said the family is happy with the charged filed against Foutch.

“If I was just to sit down and just be thinking about this stuff all the time you begin to say why why and you can’t answer the question, you can never answer those questions you just have to trust in the Lord and move forward,” said Keefe.

Foutch told investigators he remembered “looking down for a second at his gauges and the next thing he knew he hit something and there was a bang.” After the crash, he checked on his passenger and then went over to the Sperry’s car. He told police he didn’t see the other vehicle before the collision.

He told investigators he’d taken a prescribed Hydrocodone and an unprescribed Xanax in the morning. He failed field sobriety tests, court documents said.

FOX59’s Liz Gelardi is covering the story today: