Guilty Verdict Returned in Deadly Hit & Run Trial - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Guilty Verdict Returned in Deadly Hit & Run Trial

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Marija Kostova Marija Kostova
July 3, 2011 July 3, 2011
Bay County, Fla. -

The man responsible for a deadly hit and run accident in Panama City Beach is found guilty by a Bay County jury.

32-year old Jeremiah Cahours struck and killed Marija Kostova, as she was riding her bicycle home. She was visiting from her native country of Macedonia as a foreign exchange student.

"From all the accounts of her friends, she was well liked worked hard," Assistant State Attorney Robert Sombathy said.

On Thursday, Cahours was convicted of vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident with a death. The evening of July 3, 2011, he was seen leaving the Cabana West Apartments on Alf Coleman Road. Prior to that, he and his friend, Nick Barnes had been drinking and setting off fireworks.

However around midnight, they volunteered to get Cahour's girlfriend some medication. Testimony then reveals the trip took a turn for the worst; Barnes lit a firecracker in the car.

"It wasn't Nick Barnes' foot on the gas pedal or the brake. It was the defendants'," Assistant State Attorney Jennifer Hawkins said.

But Cahours warded off criticism himself, when he took the stand.

"So you're driving and this thing is blowing up in your car and you still don't stop?" Sombathy asked?

"Correct," Cahours said. "Then why did you tell Corporal Ports that you came to a full stop?"

"I thought I remembered coming to a full stop but according to witness I didn't," Cahours responded.

During cross examination of the state's all star witness (Barnes), the defense took the opportunity to clear Cahours' actions. Both men say they never knew they had hit someone, until they asked police what was going on.

According to testimony, Cahours drove to a nearby storage facility, checked his car and continued to the nearby Tom Thumb. Once returned to Cabana West and saw he couldn't access his apartment, the two decided to go to the Waffle House on Front Beach Road.

"Now I either represent one of the dumbest people you'll ever meet or he honest to god didn't know." Defense Attorney Albert Sauline said.

But neither the state nor the jury bought their story.

"Marija Kostova, she's not a little rock or a pebble that struck a windshield, not a ding in his door, a bump or a scratch or a scuff in a parking lot, but a 22 year old woman," Hawkins exclaimed.

Cahours is scheduled to appear before a Bay County Judge once more in April, this time for his sentencing. He faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.