The Phenix City teen accused of fatally injuring a father of two by running him over last year will be tried as an adult for reckless murder, Russell County Circuit Judge Michael Bellamy has decided.
Joshua Lee Gorman, 17, had sought youthful offender status before being tried in the death of Nathan Wombles, 31, whom Gorman is alleged to have run over with a 1987 Jeep Wrangler about 11:30 p.m. April 26 on Bonanza Drive, off U.S. Highway 80 in the Ladonia area.
Wombles was pronounced dead at 12:23 a.m. at the Midtown Medical Center in Columbus, investigators said. He left behind a wife and two young children.
Witnesses told authorities Gorman ran Wombles over as Wombles tried to confront the teen about a family dispute involving Wombles’ brother, police said.
Nearby residents last year complained that Gorman and his friends were terrorizing their neighborhood with reckless driving and abusive behavior, court records show. Some who wrote letters seeking help from law enforcement asked not to be publicly identified for fear of further harassment.
All the streets there have Western-sounding names. Residents signing a petition seeking police protection listed addresses on Stagecoach Drive, Lasso Loop, Gunsmoke Trail, Campfire Street, Buckboard Street, Cattle Run Drive and Pony Trail Street.
Two of the petitions bear dates preceding Wombles' death.
The neighbors said Gorman lives on Branding Iron Street between Stagecoach Drive and Bonanza Drive.
Gorman was only 16 at the time of the incident. His youthful-offender application said that had he been granted that status, he would have waived his right to a trial by jury and agreed to have the judge alone hear his case.
Such applications first require the defendant’s criminal record be examined to determine whether previous offenses would preclude gaining youthful offender status.
Attorneys have said that had Gorman been designated a youthful offender, he under Alabama law would have served no more than three years in prison; the offense would not have been listed as a conviction on his record; and his criminal record would have been sealed.
Gorman is represented by Phenix City attorney Eric Funderburk.