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June 23, 2006

Jury acquits tractor-trailer driver in fatal crash

Virginia man drove into downed tree, crews working to remove it

ROMNEY - The driver of a tractor-trailer involved in a crash that resulted in the death of a Romney man was found not guilty by a jury Thursday in Hampshire County Circuit Court.

Melvin Dale Ulrey Jr., 54, of Virginia Beach, had been indicted Jan. 3 by a Hampshire County grand jury for negligent homicide and was free on bond until the trial, which began Wednesday, according to Hampshire County Circuit Clerk Sonja Embrey.

The accident occurred April 3, 2005, on state Route 259 near Capon Springs after Uhlrey's rig reportedly struck a large oak tree that had fallen across the road as well as the crews who were working to remove it.

The collision reported at 11:15 p.m. resulted in the death of an Allegheny Power foreman, 50-year-old Steven Method, and injury to several others, including firefighters.

Prosecuting the case was Dennis DiBenedetto from Grant County because the Hampshire County Prosecuting Attorney, Steve Moreland, reportedly is married to the attorney handling the Method estate and disqualified himself.

Embrey said the jury was out for 35 minutes. Judge Donald H. Cookman presided in the two-day trial.

Ulrey was represented by Keyser attorney Dan James.

Alison Bunting can be reached at abunting@times-news.com.

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