Vehicular homicide trial jury hung

LAWRENCEVILLE - A jury tasked with deciding whether a Snellville man drove recklessly before killing a motorist in 2005 was unable to come to a unanimous resolution Friday. The case will be headed for a retrial.

The hung jury began deliberations in Nazim Chandrani's vehicular homicide case before noon Thursday. After a full day of deliberating Friday, a mistrial was called at 5 p.m., Chief Deputy Assistant District Attorney David Fife said.

Chandrani, who sat through a three-day trial this week, faces vehicular homicide charges in the October 2005 death of Kevin Thiel of Marietta.

Prosecutors say Chandrani drove his 2002 Acura recklessly through rush-hour traffic on U.S. Highway 78 before striking Thiel's 1999 Plymouth Voyager head-on; his defense attorney argues the crash was brought on by Chandrani's epilepsy, which he has struggled with since boyhood.

Key evidence in the case has been the conflicting testimony of two doctors, both highly regarded neurologists in metro Atlanta.

A doctor called by the state said driving maneuvers that Chandrani reportedly pulled off before the crash would not be possible for a person having a seizure; another doctor called by the defense said a seizure likely caused the crash.

Chandrani was driving with his 3-year-old niece - on his way to buy a Halloween costume - when he began swerving around traffic, his car sideswiping another vehicle before striking Thiel's van near Ross Road. Thiel died at the scene.

Thiel, who was married with two children, was on his way home from a guitar lesson in Lilburn.

Georgia law prohibits licensed drivers who have experienced a seizure only in the previous six months from operating a vehicle. Chandrani last reported having a seizure about five years prior to the crash.

Chandrani posted bond in December 2005, about a month after his arrest, and has not been incarcerated on the charge since.

Neither side was available late Friday to provide a timetable as to when the case may be called again.