Case against Cocke Co. politician accused of killing bicyclist moves forward

8:37 PM, Nov 17, 2011   |    comments
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  • Dan Ford
  • Katelin Richardson

A Cocke County Grand Jury will hear the case of an election commissioner accused of hitting and killing a bicyclist.

In July, investigators said Cocke County Election Commissioner Dan Ford hit bicyclist Katelin Richardson, 21, while driving in Newport.  Richardson died of her injuries.  Ford was charged with DUI and Vehicular Homicide.

At a preliminary hearing Thursday afternoon, two Tennessee Highway Patrol officers testified for the prosecution. One of them, Trooper Dennis Jenkins, told Special Prosecutor Al Schmutzer that Ford was very calm and not "visibly shaken" when he arrived on the scene.  Jenkins said that took him by surprise.

Jenkins also said Ford had a Blood Alcohol Content of .08., which is illegal in Tennessee.


Defense Attorney William Leibrock said Ford was coherent at the accident scene.  He tried to persuade Judge Ben Strand that Richardson was cycling under dangerous circumstances.

"This accident was caused by this young lady being in the middle  of the road in the middle of the night where there were street lights, no nothing," Leibrook said.



After the testimony, Strand sent the charges to the grand jury, which is scheduled to meet January 9-10 in Cocke County.

The victim, Richardson, was from Vermont.  She was in East Tennessee for the summer working as a guide for Smoky Mountain Outdoors White Water Rafting Company.


Her friends said she often biked twenty miles a day to and from Cosby to see a friend.

"She was one of those people who made you feel good about being alive," said co-worker and friend Jim Clark.

At the time of the incident, Ford was the Cocke County Election Commissioner. In 2008 he ran unsuccessfully for the 11th district seat in the Tennessee House. He was the former chairman of the Cocke County Republican Party. He is CEO and founder of Aero-Pro, a recycled rubber business his family operates in Cosby. Ford is also Chairman of Eagle Plastics in Newport.


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