Anchorage driver guilty of hit-and-run, acquitted on assault charge

Casey Grove

An Anchorage jury on Thursday found the driver in a 2012 hit-and-run collision guilty of failing to render aid to the pedestrian his car hit near Tudor Road and Arctic Boulevard.

But that felony charge against Luke Jerde, 22, had not been in dispute.

While the jury also convicted Jerde of three misdemeanors -- reckless endangerment, reckless driving and driving without insurance -- it acquitted him on a felony first-degree assault charge, Deputy District Attorney Clint Campion said.

The collision with Zachary Mohs, 28, left Mohs badly injured and severed Mohs' left leg.

Jerde's lawyer, Chong Yim, had argued at trial that Mohs had stepped in front of Jerde's red 1984 Pontiac Fiero Jerde while not in a crosswalk and that Mohs was wearing dark clothing. Under Alaska statute, the jury would have had to find that Jerde showed "extreme indifference to the value of human life" to convict him of first-degree assault.

Mohs' mother, Cheryl Young, said by phone from Minnesota that she was angry the jury had not convicted Jerde on the second felony.

"I was pretty frustrated," Young said. "But from the beginning, I said I would put it in God's hands. What really matters is that he can rehabilitate from this and learn from it."

Mohs continues to recover, but he is still confined to a wheelchair, Young said. The family is pursuing a lawsuit against Jerde to recoup Mohs' medical expenses, she said.

"I'm looking forward to him getting out and getting a job so he can pay to make up for not having insurance," Young said.

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