August 22, 2006
Dr. Mohammad Ali Behzadian says health problems, not drugs and alcohol, are to blame for the accident that killed a high school senior.
"I got scared something was going bad," he testified today. "I tried to pull over, not knowing I was on the left side of the road--the wrong side of the road."
A jury has convicted Dr. Behzadian...but the biggest charges got a not guilty verdict.
Jurors decided the MCG researcher and professor is guilty of two misdemeanors in the death of 18-year-old Brandon Layton three years ago: second-degree vehicular homicide and driving on the wrong side of the road.
Dr. Behzadian took the stand in his own defense. He says a heart condition caused him drive down the wrong side of the road down River Watch Parkway.
"I started feeling my heart rate and after that I tried to turn."
18-year-old Brandon Layton was killed instantly when Dr. Behzadian's car hit Brandon's head on.
Behzadian says it was a mistake only made worse by the dark area.
Prosecutors say it was a combination of alcohol and prescription drugs.
The doctor admits to taking medication and aspirin the morning of the accident, and later having a glass of wine at a dinner party, but blood tests were negative for any types of drugs or alcohol.
"I was taking cholesterol medicine and vitamins," Dr. Behzadian testified.
Dr. Behzadian's fiancée Melanie Pitts remembers questioning the doctor about the accident at the hospital the next day.
"He told me what happened, and he's always been consistent with his answer: half of a very small glass of wine," she testified.
Another witness said the intersection at River Watch and Stevens Creek is dangerous. She testified it was an accident that anyone could have made.
"Somebody needs to make people aware of how that intersection can be," she said.
Dr. Behzadian is still employed by the Medical College of Georgia.
Sentencing could take up a couple of weeks. A person found guilty of second-degree vehicular homicide could be sentenced to up to 12 months in prison.