A man has been indicted by a Murray County grand jury for murder in the second degree and cruelty to children in the second degree for the death of a 2-year-old girl who was struck and killed by a truck in October of last year "while he was distracted playing video games," according to the indictments.
Jordan Walls faces a sentence of from 10 to 30 years in prison if convicted of both counts. Sheriff's office Chief Deputy Jimmy Davenport said arrangements have been made for Walls to turn himself in to the sheriff's office.
Both indictments said Walls, who was the only adult supervising two children who were 2, "failed to properly supervise said children ... who had previously the same evening exited the residence without the accused's knowledge and been located by the accused outside of the residence and brought back into the residence, and when he failed to properly secure the door through which said children had previously exited the residence, and when he allowed said children to roam about the residence, including to the area where the unsecured door was located while he was distracted playing video games."
The indictments said "around sunset, both children again exited the residence without the accused's knowledge after which said children walked approximately 100 yards to the intersection of Old Dalton-Ellijay Road and Diamond Way and entered the roadway ..."
The indictments said one of the children was struck by a motor vehicle.
The indictment for murder in the second degree said Walls' actions were "irrespective of malice."
The indictment for cruelty to children in the second degree mentions "criminal negligence."
A sheriff’s office incident report identified Walls, then 23, as the stepfather of the 2-year-old girl.
The incident report included information that two 2-year-olds got out of the house at 1420 Old Dalton-Ellijay Road in Chatsworth. A Division of Family and Children Services worker spoke with the parents on the scene. The report said, "It appeared Mr. Jordan Walls was inside playing video games, and the children ... snuck out of the back door that does not lock properly.”
The incident report said Walls "approached the scene with concern." He said he was looking for two 2-year-olds "that got out of his home ... "
"Mr. Walls fell to his knees crying when he realized that (redacted) was possibly the one struck by the vehicle," the incident report said.
District Attorney Bert Poston said, "Murder in the second degree is similar to felony murder in that it is an unintended death which occurred during the commission of a felony. The difference is that while felony murder can be predicated in any number of dangerous felony crimes, murder in the second can only be based on cruelty in the second.
"The reason for that is felonies that support a felony murder charge are specific intent crimes like armed robbery. Cruelty to children in the second degree, on the other hand, is where a child is harmed as a result of criminal negligence without any intent to harm. Murder in the second degree is thus where that unintended harm leads to the death of the child."
According to the incident report, a Dodge Ram and a Nissan truck collided, and the child was struck by one of the trucks, at the intersection of Old Dalton-Ellijay Road and Diamond Way shortly after 7 p.m. on Oct. 15.
Davenport said at the time that one of the drivers swerved to avoid the child and collided head-on with the other truck. He said there was no fault on the part of either driver.
Poston had said previously that a joint investigation involved the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Georgia State Patrol, Murray County Sheriff's Office and the Murray County Division of Family and Children Services, with the GBI as the lead agency.
“We are investigating and will see if any laws were broken or if there was any negligence,” Special Agent in Charge Joe Montgomery of the GBI said in October. “We were requested to assist by the sheriff’s office and the District Attorney’s Office and are working with them and the Division of Family and Children Services and will go from there.”