HENRY COUNTY, Ga. -- A major development in a heartbreaking hit-and-run case that killed a Henry County 16-year-old girl in June:
At a Wednesday hearing, a Henry County magistrate court judge threw out the most serious charge -- vehicular homicide -- against the 19-year-old driver who is accused of hitting and killing Tasia Gartner. The judge ruled there was not enough probable cause to charge the suspect, Robert Huynh, on the felony.
During the proceedings, a police investigator testified that Gartner ran across the dark highway near McDonough the night of June 19, was not in a pedestrian crosswalk, and was not wearing reflective clothing. Huynh's attorney argued that Huynh was not the one who caused the fatal accident, and was not responsible for the accident itself, the judge agreed.
Huyhn is out on bond, still charged with two misdemeanors -- hit-and-run, and failure to report an accident.
The District Attorney in Henry County said he will now investigate the hit-and-run, and may ask a Grand Jury to indict the driver on felony charges.
Part of the prosecution's case will be what, according to police, Huynh did with the damaged car the day after the accident, and how he tried to keep from getting caught.
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Police said Huynh had his car, a Honda Fit, towed to Bob's Body Shop in Doraville on June 20, the day after Gartner was killed, hoping to get the car repaired in secret. The body shop is more than 40 miles from Huynh's home in McDonough. (Police had said in June that the body shop was in Duluth, more than 50 miles away, but later corrected the address).
Bob Nguyen, owner of the shop, recalled, clearly, answering the phone from a caller--someone he thinks was from Huynh's family--who told him the car had struck a deer overnight and the car needed to be repaired. Nguyen said he would take a look, and a tow truck delivered the heavily damaged car that day.
Nguyen said Huynh told him he was going to pay cash for the repairs instead of filing an insurance claim. Nguyen said Wednesday he was skeptical at the time -- about the car and the heavy damage and the 19 year old saying he wanted to pay cash for the repairs, which would probably cost thousands of dollars. Nguyen said that a day after the tow truck delivered the car, as he was assessing the damage to the car, police showed up.
"They come to look at the car, 'I [ask] what happened,'" he recalled. "The police tell me, they hit and then they killed the girl, 16-years-old."
Robert Huynh's attorney declined to comment about the case. The District Attorney may be ready to present the case to the a grand jury for possible indictment in a few weeks.
PHOTOS | Tasia Gartner