Truck driver found guilty in fatal crash with motorcycle riders

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Michael Jakscht By Jennifer Thomas Michael Jakscht By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- A jury has convicted a truck driver who slammed into a group of motorcycle riders in 2010 -- killing four of them and injuring five others.

Michael Jakscht, 49, was found guilty on four counts of manslaughter. He was also found guilty of five counts of aggravated assault, one count of endangerment imminent death, and three counts of endangerment physical injury. This was the second trial for Jakscht.

"Today's verdict underscores my office's commitment to the pursuit of justice and the hard work of undeterred prosecutors," said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. "The selfish and senseless act of driving impaired, from alcohol, drugs or prescribed substances, inevitably will lead to tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the surviving family members of victims who lost their lives and with the victims who are still recovering."

Jakscht was the man behind the wheel of a 23,000-pound dump truck in March 2010 when the vehicle failed to stop at a traffic light along the Carefree Highway and slammed into a group of motorcycle riders that had stopped for a light.

Jakscht was charged with four counts of manslaughter and multiple counts of aggravated assault because prosecutors said he had methamphetamine in his system at the time of the crash.

Jakscht's defense lawyers had argued vigorously that their client was not impaired and that the crash was a terrible "accident" caused by a mechanical failure in the massive truck.

Jakscht's first trial last year ended with a hung jury deadlock 9 to 3 for acquittal.

The Maricopa County attorney's office decided to retry the case. Closing arguments in round two of the State v. Michael Jakscht were delivered to a new jury on Monday.

The jury is now deliberating on aggravating factors in the case.