Police: Suspect drove to body shop after hitting cyclist

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Jonathan Jacobi, 37, McCordsville, made his first court appearance on Wednesday after being charged in the hit-and-run incident on Aug. 26. (Tom Russo | Daily Reporter)

HANCOCK COUNTY — At the same time a bicyclist was lying in a ditch with multiple fractures and severe internal injuries, the man accused of striking him with his pickup truck was at a body shop to have the collision damage repaired.

Jonathan K. Jacobi, 37, McCordsville, also lied to detectives about the hit-and-run crash when he was first interviewed and changed his story only after he was arrested.

Those details emerged in a court filing in support of a felony charge against Jacobi, who has been charged in connection with the incident last Friday morning along State Road 234. The victim, Terry Huff, 67, Anderson, is still hospitalized with multiple grave injuries.

Jacobi made his initial appearance in Hancock County Superior Court 1 Wednesday afternoon in front of Judge Dan Marshall to face a Level 4 felony count of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death or catastrophic injury. He pleaded not guilty as more than a dozen family members looked on.

The charge carries a sentence of up to 12 years in prison with the average sentence being six years, Marshall said. The Level 4 felony is an elevated charge from the initial Level 6 felony lodged against Jacobi when he was arrested Monday. Jacobi left the Hancock County Jail after posting a $7,500 bond.

On the morning of July 26, Huff was riding west along the edge of State Road 234 west of State Road 9 when he was struck from behind. The force of the collision threw Huff and his mangled bicycle into a ditch, where he was spotted only after a passing driver caught a glimpse of him off the side of the road. A 911 call was placed at about 10:25; it’s unclear how long Huff had been in the ditch before he was found.

Broken automotive parts found at the scene — at least one of which was stamped with a serial number — indicated the suspect vehicle was likely a 2017 or later Ford F250 pickup. Surveillance video from a nearby homeowner showed a Ford F250 or F350 with a tractor on a trailer driving through the area before the 911 call was placed.

On Monday, the sheriff’s department contacted a collision repair shop in Marion County to ask whether a vehicle matching the description happened to be there. One was.

According to court records, the body shop representative told investigators the F350, registered to Jacobi, had been dropped off shortly before 10:40 on Friday. That was 15 minutes after passers-by spotted Huff and called 911.

Interviewed later Monday, Jacobi initially told detectives he had fallen asleep while driving and had “woken abruptly” but that he did not think he had struck anything, court records said. Shortly after that, when he saw the damage, he concluded he must have struck a mailbox, he told detectives, according to the court records.

Jacobi told officials he didn’t know anything about a bicyclist being hit. It wasn’t until he was arrested and interviewed later by detectives that Jacobi stated he knew he had struck a bicyclist but that he had kept driving after the collision because he was scared, the court documents said.

In court on Wednesday, deputy prosecutor Kevin Kelly asked for a $7,500 cash bond and brought up Jacobi’s criminal history. It includes an arrest and charge for operating a vehicle while intoxicated in 2010, and an unlawful taking of a deer or wild animal in 2013.

Jacobi, a Mt. Vernon High School graduate who had lived in Markleville for 11 years, moved back to the McCordsville area where he started a small business, said his attorney, Edward Walter of Greenfield.

Walter asked Marshall to allow his client to be freed on a $2,500 cash bond, but Marshall set the bond at $7,500 cash, which the defendant posted.

Jacobi is set to appear in court again for a pretrial conference at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18.

Huff’s condition, meanwhile, remains uncertain. The list of injuries, including multiple fractures and severe internal injuries, takes up most of a page in the court affidavit filed in support of the charge against Jacobi. Huff’s sister told detectives that doctors at IU Methodist Hospital informed her Huff likely will never walk again if he survives his other injuries, the document said.