A judge on Tuesday found a 64-year-old Davenport man accused in a January dragging death guilty on one charge.
Judge Mark Fowler presided in a bench trial for Mark Blackwood, accused in the Jan. 18 death of pedestrian Eric Johnson. Blackwood faced felony charges of homicide by vehicle – reckless driving, and leaving the scene of an accident – death.
Fowler found Blackwood guilty of leaving the scene of an accident – death. Sentencing will be Feb. 25, Fowler said Tuesday in Scott County Court.
“This was indeed a horrible, horrible tragedy,” said Fowler, who in court reviewed details about the incident and Iowa laws.
During the trial last week, Fowler said, Blackwood testified he felt an impact and thought it might be someone throwing snowballs, testimony Fowler found “hard to believe.”
Blackwood “did not call or report the accident to the police at that time,” Fowler said..
Fowler said he did not think the state proved its case in the homicide by vehicle – reckless driving charge.
Defense attorney Douglas Scovil, who declined to comment Tuesday after Fowler announced his decision, maintained throughout the trial Blackwood knew he was involved in an accident, but he did not know it involved another person. Before the crash, Blackwood went to the Circle Tap to pick up dinner for his family, said Scovil, who said Blackwood stopped after the crash.
During the trial, prosecutor Amy DeVine, first assistant Scott County attorney, maintained “There is no way the defendant didn’t know he struck Eric Johnson.” DeVine said Blackwood “fled the scene.”
“I’m sorry for your loss,” Fowler told Johnson’s family, who were in court when Fowler announced his decision.
Fowler said a presentence investigation will be ordered before the sentencing. Blackwood will remain released on bond.
The incident, according to arrest affidavits
Shortly after 7 p.m. Jan. 18, Davenport police responded to the area of the 2600 block of Fillmore Lane to an unresponsive man in the road, an arrest affidavit says.
Police say Blackwood was driving a 1999 Chevrolet Blazer when he hit Johnson, who was walking in the 1900 block of Washington Street. Johnson was carried on the hood/front of the vehicle for about 140 feet.
After the initial contact with the vehicle, Johnson fell from the hood and became tangled in the undercarriage of the Blazer.
Blackwood, police say, dragged Johnson nearly 3,000 feet headed north on Washington Street, then east on Central Park Avenue and finally north on Fillmore Lane.
Johnson became dislodged from the Blazer in the 2600 block of Fillmore Lane.
Blackwood, the affidavit says, “never reported this crash to police or medical personnel.” Johnson, who was dragged for seven blocks, was pronounced dead later that evening.
Blackwood was identified as the driver after law enforcement reviewed video from the area and through his own statements.
The Blazer was located at Blackwood’s residence the next day with damage from the incident