Traffic stop may cost man freedom

Becky Campbell • Mar 28, 2012 at 11:37 AM

A Kingsport man is at risk of serving a three-year prison term for violating conditions of judicial diversion when he was caught driving without a valid license.

Aaron Z. Decker, 22, 1124 Sourmash Drive, pleaded guilty in Washington County Sessions Court Tuesday to driving on a suspended license and will serve two days in jail for the conviction.

Decker was stopped by Johnson City Police Office Keith Nave in September for having an expired tag. As it turned out, Nave was on the scene of the fatal crash on Interstate 26 in 2007 that killed a Johnson City teen.

Decker, 18 at the time of the October 2007 crash, was eastbound on I-26 when he went off the road and over-corrected. The car struck a guardrail and rolled at least once before coming to a rest in the median.

A passenger, 17-year-old Jessica “Jessi” Johnson, was ejected through the sunroof and died at the scene.

In that case, Decker pleaded guilty to reckless homicide in September 2008. In the plea deal, he received a three-year prison sentence, and his attorney, Rick Spivey, asked for judicial diversion.

Criminal Court Judge Lynn Brown granted the diversion, which suspended the three-year prison sentence in exchange for 12 years of probation.

Judicial diversion allows a defendant to have a conviction erased from their record if they successfully complete all the terms of the probation.

As a result of the crash, the Tennessee Department of Safety revoked Decker’s license, and he wasn’t eligible to obtain his license until this month.

Spivey told Sessions Judge Robert Lincoln that Decker does have his license reinstated now. He also asked Lincoln to reduce the driving on a suspended license to no license in possession.

Assistant District Attorney General Robin Ray said she opposed the motion, and Lincoln denied that request.

Decker now faces a revocation hearing in Criminal Court on June 15.


CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the relationship of Aaron Decker and a Johnson City teen killed when he crashed his car in October 2007. Jessi Johnson, the victim, was not Decker’s girlfriend.

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