By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Kentucky man convicted of reckless homicide of man who died after being dragged by car
Dragging Death WXS2 5365997
In this undated photo released by the Louisville Metropolitan Department of Corrections, Thomas Sewastynowicz, 49, is shown. A jury cleared the Louisville man of murder on Wednesday Oct. 3, 2007, but convicted him on a lesser charge of reckless homicide. Sewastynowicz faces up to five years in prison on the conviction. He was charged in the death of Anthony Graham, who died after being dragged several blocks by a car in downtown Louisville last year. - photo by Associated Press
    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A man was cleared of murder but convicted of reckless homicide Wednesday for the death of a man who was dragged several blocks by a car and flung against a utility wire.
    Thomas Sewastynowicz, 50, faces up to five years in prison for causing the death of Anthony Graham in March 2006. The defense argued that Graham was trying to rob Sewastynowicz and he drove away in self-defense.
    ‘‘Obviously we wanted an acquittal and felt an acquittal was justified by the evidence,’’ said Don Major, an attorney for Sewastynowicz. ‘‘On the other hand, when you are facing wanton murder, reckless homicide is a greatly reduced charge.’’
    Graham died after his body struck a support wire on a utility pole when the car dragging him screeched to a stop. Sewastynowicz left the scene but went to police the next morning, saying he didn’t know that Graham had been killed.
    The case caught the attention of civil rights groups when Sewastynowicz, who is white, was let out of jail while awaiting trial. Graham was black.
    Prosecutors argued that Sewastynowicz was a lifelong addict trying to obtain drugs, that there was no evidence he was being robbed and that he was familiar with the neighborhood, despite claiming he was lost.
    The jury deliberated about five hours on Tuesday, then briefly met Wednesday morning before returning with the decision.
    Graham’s father, Dr. Toney Graham, stormed out of the courtroom after the verdict was read. He declined to comment.
    Prosecutors said they were pleased with the verdict, but also noted that the victim’s father had hoped for a harsher punishment. ‘‘He’s not very happy with it,’’ said Scott Davis, the lead prosecutor.
    Graham’s father, a physician from Lake City, S.C., has traveled to Louisville several times and has pushed for a harsh punishment for Sewastynowicz. Civil-rights groups have held rallies in support of Graham’s family.
    A commission investigating racial bias in the county’s court system reported last summer that blacks make up a larger portion of the jail population than whites, even though more whites are booked. The study also found that white defendants were more likely to make bail partly because they tend to have more financial resources.

Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter