Clayton County Solicitor General Tasha Mosley
JONESBORO — Misdemeanor charges against former NBA player Daron “Mookie” Blaylock involving the traffic death of a mother of five have been upgraded to felonies, prosecutors said Monday.
Clayton County Solicitor General Tasha Mosley said new evidence provided the information needed to justify an underlying charge of reckless driving. That charge is enough to upgrade the case to vehicular homicide in the first degree, she said.
“We have to give a huge shout-out to a Sandy Springs police officer who provided information that made it a felony,” said Mosley. “On his own initiative, Officer S. Ellis contacted us about an April 23 (2013) incident that was not reported, something that happened before this crash.”
At the time of the fatality, Blaylock’s wife, Jamie Blaylock, reportedly told police that her husband had a medical condition that caused seizures. From the state’s perspective, if Blaylock knew he suffered from a condition that made it unsafe for him to drive, he can be charged with reckless driving.
That count allows prosecutors to charge Blaylock with a felony instead of a misdemeanor.
“If he knew he had previous medical issues, that trumps him driving on a suspended license,” said Mosley.
The release of medical information is protected by federal HIPAA laws.
Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson, whose office prosecutes felonies, said she hopes to present the case to a grand jury before the end of April.
If convicted on the new charges, Blaylock, 47, faces a maximum of 32 years in prison, said Lawson.
Jonesboro police said Blaylock crossed the median on Tara Boulevard in a 2007 Cadillac Escalade and hit a 2003 Chrysler Town and Country mini-van head-on May 31. The van was driven by Frank Murphy, who suffered a fractured right ankle, and occupied by his wife, Monica Murphy, 40, who died hours later at Atlanta Medical Center.
The couple had five children, ages 3-15.
Police said the family had relocated to the metro Atlanta area from Mississippi but returned home following Murphy’s death.
Blaylock, of Zebulon was driving on a suspended license at the time of the crash, said police, and had outstanding warrants from Spalding County related to a DUI charge. Clayton County State Court Chief Assistant Solicitor General Keith Gammage asked for $500,000 bond and tight restrictions on Blaylock’s movements during a subsequent June hearing.
Gammage told then-Clayton County Magistrate Court Chief Judge Daphne Walker that Blaylock’s DUI record dates to 1996 and includes a felony probation violation in September 2010. Blaylock was involved in a DUI-related hit and run March 20, 2013, said Gammage. Blaylock’s license was suspended in January 2013 after another DUI conviction, he said.
Walker set a $250,000 special condition bond requiring 24-hour house arrest, GPS monitoring, at least weekly random drug and alcohol screening, relinquishing of Blaylock’s passport, no driving and exclusions to house arrest only for work, church, doctor’s visits or meetings with his attorney.
Because of their familiarity with the case, Lawson plans to swear-in Gammage and Mosley as felony prosecutors to assist Clayton County Assistant District Attorney Deah Warren. The crossover is a first for the offices, said Lawson.
“We transfer cases between the offices often,” she said. “But I’ve never appointed one of their attorneys to help prosecute a traffic case. Deah is our traffic expert so they will be helping her. We may also consult with the traffic expert with the Prosecuting Attorneys Council.”
Lawson said Mosley’s office did all the investigation into the case so it is close to be ready to be presented to a grand jury before the end of April.
Blaylock played with the Atlanta Hawks from 1992 to 1999.