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Charged driver pleads not guilty

BY CORIANNE EGAN cegan@paducahsun.com

BENTON - It's been nearly four months since the Thanksgiving wreck that killed Megan McCoy, but McCoy's parents saw the man charged with her death for the first time Monday.

"At first, I stared him down," said Angie Sharp, her mother. "He knew who I was. As soon as they called his name, I got butterflies and needed to squeeze (my husband's) leg. Then to hear him say not guilty, I just lost it."

Jeff Nelson, 48, of Murray appeared in Marshall Circuit Court for arraignment. He pleaded not guilty to his charges. It was the first time Nelson had been in Marshall County since jumping bail in December. Nelson was behind the wheel on Nov. 28 and driving in the wrong lane of Ky. 80 in Aurora. He hit the vehicle of McCoy, who was on her way to work.

Nelson faces second-degree manslaughter, driving under the influence and bail jumping charges. He was also arraigned on a second-degree escape charge Monday afternoon in Marshall District Court. He pleaded not guilty.

Only a week after Nelson was arrested, Marshall District Judge Jack Telle allowed him to leave the state to attend his grandmother's funeral in Georgia. Nelson was supposed to be picked up in Paducah, but took a bus to Marion, Ill., instead. Marion police said Nelson stole a car, and when they arrested him he was driving the wrong way on the highway.

McCoy's family waited through two court dockets in December and January to see Nelson, but each time he was incarcerated in Illinois and did not make the trip. He was returned to Marshall County and jailed Wednesday. His bond has been set at $150,000 cash.

"We've been down here several times thinking we would see him, and each time we haven't," Sharp said. "We got the information and called the clerk, and we knew we were going to be down here."

McCoy was two days away from her 24th birthday at the time of her death. She was the mother of two  girls, ages 3 and 16 months.

"Her oldest is the spitting image of Megan," Sharp said. "She's so much like her mother. She is the spitting image of her."

Foust scheduled a status hearing for April 21. Blood tests on Nelson have returned, but toxicology results have been delayed.

Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652 or follow @CoriEgan on Twitter.

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