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Franklin man faces federal charges after hit-and-run of bicyclist

Staff Reports • Jul 28, 2017 at 1:21 PM

A federal grand jury indicted a Franklin man Thursday and charged him with reckless aggravated assault, lying to a federal agent and obstruction of justice, according to acting U.S. attorney Jack Smith with the Middle District of Tennessee.

The indictment of Marshall Neely III, 58, of Franklin, stems from a July 8 incident on Natchez Trace Parkway where a bicyclist was hit by a vehicle and injured. The driver of the vehicle, later identified as Neely, left the scene of the incident.

“Middle Tennessee is an area where bicycle traffic is abundant and growing daily,” Smith said. “Our roads are used both by recreational bicyclists, as well as a growing number of citizens who use alternative methods of transportation to get to and from their workplaces. To achieve the sense of community that we all want for our area, we must respect the rights of others in our community to live and move about the area. That means drivers of automobiles respecting the right of bicyclists to use our roads and bicyclists respecting the right of drivers to use our roads, as well.  

“The wanton recklessness exhibited by this defendant could easily have taken the life of the victim in this case. Such indifference to human life cannot be tolerated as it places all our bicycling citizens in grave danger. Whenever such blatant disregard for our citizen’s safety occurs on roadways under federal jurisdiction, you can expect that this U.S. attorney’s office will move swiftly to seek the appropriate avenue of justice.”

According to the indictment, on the morning of July 8, two individuals were riding bicycles along the Natchez Trace Parkway in Williamson County when a black Volvo struck one of the individuals from behind. 

The impact caused the bicyclist to be thrown from his bicycle, and he sustained injuries that required him to be taken by ambulance to the Williamson County Medical Center for treatment. 

Despite the impact, the driver of the Volvo did not slow down or stop but instead, continued driving. 

As the indictment alleges, the incident was captured on video by a helmet-mounted camera used by the other bicyclist.  This video was later posted on the internet and used to identify the owner of the vehicle as Neely.

Late in the afternoon on July 8, the indictment alleges Neely’s son went to the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department and reported the vehicle that struck the bicyclist belonged to his father and said he recognized the “Dartmouth,” “Rice” and “Boston” stickers on the back windshield, as depicted in the video. 

When law enforcement officers arrived at Neely’s home that evening, the indictment alleges the Volvo was parked in the grass behind the garage, and the “Dartmouth” and “Rice” stickers were removed from the back windshield. Officers also said residue from a cleaning agent was visible on the right front of the vehicle where it had struck the bicyclist.

The indictment further alleges shortly after observing the condition of the Volvo, officers found Neely in his home and unconscious on the floor.  After he was roused by law enforcement officers, Neely told the officers that while he was driving on the Parkway, earlier that morning, a bicyclist threw his bicycle at him. The indictment also alleges Neely admitted to removing the stickers from his vehicle to prevent him from being identified.

Neely was arrested at his home Friday by U.S. National Park Service rangers and appeared before a U.S. magistrate Friday afternoon.

If convicted, Neely faces two to 12 years in prison on the reckless aggravated assault charge; up to five years in prison for lying to a federal agent; and up to 20 years in prison for obstructing justice.

The National Park Service and the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department investigated the case. Assistant U.S. attorney Sara Beth Myers is serving as prosecutor.

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