Kelley was charged with reckless conduct, a misdemeanor, for failing to call law enforcement immediately after Ryan Dover, the driver charged in the accident, contacted Kelley to inform him of the crash.
Dover’s vehicle allegedly struck and killed Erick Keais, who was riding a bicycle on Main Street in Cedartown. Dover still faces charges in the accident.
In a 12-page ruling Tuesday, Senior Judge Stephen Shuster noted that Kelley was not directly involved in the crash. In addition, the judge wrote that the indictment, even if true, did not accuse Kelley of any actions that constitute a crime.
“There is no authority either through statutory enactment or the common law, that imposes a duty on a non-driving and non-present third party to call the police upon learning of a potential automobile accident,” Shuster wrote.
“To follow the state’s position in this case, every driver passing by a collision on the roadway must now ‘immediately’ contact 911 or they have committed a crime. The legal authority for this proposition, however, does not exist in the hit-and-run statute or anywhere else.”
Kelley was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 2012 in a district that includes all of Polk County and portions of Bartow and Haralson counties. He rose to majority whip but stepped down from leadership last summer to focus on the hit-and-run case.
The prosecution is considering whether to appeal Tuesday’s ruling.
This story available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.