Conviction overturned for truck driver, a Rockford man, in fatal W. Va. crash

Published: May. 16, 2019 at 11:43 AM CDT
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A judge has overturned the conviction of an Illinois truck driver in a crash that killed a North Carolina family in southern West Virginia.

The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports Mercer County Circuit Court Judge William Sadler dismissed the case against 41-year-old Rockford man Bertram Copeland on Tuesday, citing a lack of evidence.

Copeland was convicted of negligent homicide and reckless driving in the April 2017 crash and was sentenced in March to four years in jail.

Officials said the southbound tractor-trailer crossed the median and struck a vehicle along Interstate 77, killing David and Christine Gilley of Salisbury, North Carolina, and their two children.

Copeland blamed a mechanical failure.

The judge said the law requires intent to be proven and it wasn’t clear that Copeland knew of defects with the truck.

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