Gebben guilty, victim's family reacts

By Mike McDaniel - bio | email | Twitter

LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - A Jones County jury found Dominic Gebben guilty Tuesday of manslaughter by culpable negligence and felony fleeing in the death of a 5-year-old boy.

"I guess it's a relief to hear the verdict guilty. It's not closure; it's not an end to it, but it is an end to a couple of really stressful days," said Andy Key, father of the child who was killed.

The North Jones Elementary student and two of his siblings were getting off their school bus in front of their home on Houston road, when Gebben passed the bus, hit Nathan and kept driving.

Since that day in December of 2009, the Keys have been waiting for justice.

"It allows me to know that he will now be held accountable for the actions and the conscious decisions that he made on the day of December 11, when he took my child's life," said Lori Key, mother of Nathan.

Gebben was indicted with two counts, one for manslaughter by culpable negligence, the other for felony fleeing. After a day of testimony from the prosecution and none from the defense, Gebben was found guilty on both.

The defense never disputed Gebben killed Nathan, or that he left the scene. The defense did question whether it was in fact culpable negligence or a lesser form, claming the breaks on Gebben's vehicle we're working properly and it was a simple mistake to pass. The prosecution said it is a case of common sense.

"They're just trying to convince one juror. If they can convince one juror it's not culpable negligence then a hung jury is a win for them. I had never had any doubt it's culpable negligence," said District Attorney Anthony Buckley.

In a video played in court taken from the inside of the school bus, you can see what prosecutors say is Gebben's vehicle stop behind the bus, and then begin to pass. Screams from the bus driver tell what happened next.

"I believe only a cold-hearted coward could have left my Nathan in the street to die," said Lori Key.

Nathan's sister Tessa and mother Lori made statements to the court after the verdict was read, statements which even had Gebben wiping away tears.

"On Mother's Day of 2010, my children decided to take me on a picnic, to the cemetery. From the minds of young children they wanted me to spend time on Mother's Day with all of my children," said Lori Key. "They didn't want to celebrate mother's day without Nathan."

"Dominic took my brother way, he took away my whole life. The past has been sad, December is sad for me, I am sad now," said Tessa Key.

"I do wish that I could stand here today and tell you how successful he was in elementary school, high school and employment, but those years have been taken from us," said Lori Key.

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