Jacksonville Man Pleads Guilty In 2020 Reckless Homicide Case

By Benjamin Cox on October 1, 2021 at 5:07pm

Emotions were high in Morgan County Court to conclude a year-long case this morning.

20 year old Jayden P. Norton of the first block of Westfair Drive plead guilty to one count of reckless homicide and aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude a peace officer in front of Morgan County Circuit Judge Chris Reif.

Norton was the driver of a car during the early morning hours of September 30, 2020 when a Morgan County Sheriff’s Deputy attempted to initiate a traffic stop on an eastbound vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed by the viaduct on East Morton Avenue. The deputy later terminated pursuit, only to field a report of a single-vehicle crash on Old Route 36 near Witty Road a short time later. The crash claimed the life of Norton’s passenger in the vehicle, 19 year old Joshua Gordley.

Morgan County State’s Attorney Gray Noll says a member of Gordley’s family along with Norton spoke in court this morning prior to sentencing: “The victim’s brother testified today in court and gave a very emotional statement about how the actions the defendant have affected his life, but more than anything, it was a statement of forgiveness of the defendant. The victim’s father and mother were present in court along with some other family members. It was an emotional time, and the defendant gave a statement of allocution where he gave a very heartfelt apology to the victim’s family and indicated that certainly he wished that he could take his actions back and bring Josh back, the decedent.”

Norton was sentenced to 180 days in the Morgan County Jail, 30 months of adult probation, fined $2,500 plus fees and court costs. Noll says that good time credit in the case does not apply. Noll also says that there are some specific conditions that Norton must abide by during his probation: “All of the standard conditions of probation were ordered along with some specific conditions including that the defendant is not allowed to operate a motor vehicle while he is on probation. He is not allowed to ingest alcohol or cannabis, and he must maintain either full-time employment or be enrolled in full-time school while he is on probation. I don’t think he will have many roadblocks to successfully completing probation. He did seem sincere about his apology and sincere about his resolution to put this behind him and work towards a positive change in his life.”

A charge of consumption of liquor by a minor was dropped per the plea. Norton was remanded to the custody of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office after today’s hearing.