Knoxville Man Guilty in Hit and Run Death of UT Student

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Knoxville (WVLT) - Family and friends of a 20-year-old UT student killed in a hit and run accident in September finally have some questions answered.

A Knox County judge found 28-year-old Jason Stanke guilty of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death.

The key witness had only known Morgan McCarty for a few hours, but today he laid several questions her family had, to rest.

The verdict is in, 28-year-old Jason Stanke, guilty of leaving the scene of an accident involving death.

The ruling puts him behind the wheel of the white SUV that hit 20-year-old Morgan McCarty on September 23rd 2006, and took her life.

“There were discrepancies about who owned it, how they came into possession of it, but ultimately it was just a question of who was driving,” Assistant District Attorney, Ken Irvine says without 21-year-old Thomas Allen the state had no case, he was with McCarty the night she was killed. "He remembered very well what he saw that night and without him we couldn't have made that case."

Allen says he had a clear picture of who was driving the white SUV.

He identified Stanke in a photo line-up after the accident.

"I could see that his hair was brown or black, he was wearing a baseball hat that was sitting pretty high on his head,” Allen recalls.

The defense maintains Stanke's innocence.

"Mr. Stanke maintains he had nothing to do with it, he was not there, he was not in the white SUV, he wasn't driving, he wasn't in this at all,” says William Talman, Stanke’s attorney.

The only witness called by the defense was Kendra Farr.

She testified she was also on 17th Street at the time of the accident.

"This case revolved around what Mr. Allen said he saw, he insists he saw Stanke driving the vehicle, but never mentions another vehicle. We wanted to get it out there was another vehicle out there,” Talman.

McCarty’s family did not want to go on camera, but they wore pink bracelet's to remember her.

"I'm just happy for the family. I hope that it lets them move on a little bit,” says Irvine.

The maximum sentence for this crime is two years.

Stanke was released because he has been serving time since he was arrested in September, about 8 months, which is what the state requires.

Stanke will be back in court on June 29th, he could face probation, and his defense attorney says then they will also decide if they will appeal.

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