Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Trevor Cannon

Other Georgia Exonerations with Official Misconduct
https://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/PublishingImages/Trevor_Cannon%20copy.jpg
On February 22, 2013, 22-year-old Trevor Cannon lost control of his pickup truck on Interstate 516 in Savannah, Georgia. The truck struck and rolled over the median, and collided head-on with a SUV. The collision killed the driver, 29-year-old Stephen Joyner, and his 31-year-old wife, Camie.

The couple’s three-year-old daughter, Dakota, was seriously injured, but survived. The driver of a motorcycle, 47-year-old Irven Williams, was injured when he went into a skid to avoid a collision.

In October 2013, Cannon was indicted by a Chatham County grand jury on two charges of first-degree homicide by vehicle, two counts of serious injury by vehicle, and reckless driving.

Prior to the trial, Cannon’s defense attorney requested copies of audio statements of witnesses that were recorded at the scene of the crash. The prosecution said the statements, which were referenced in written police reports, could not be found.

Cannon went to trial in Chatham County Superior Court in April 2015. Witnesses testified for the prosecution that Cannon was driving at or above the 55-mile per hour speed limit on wet pavement, and that he was weaving in and out of traffic when he lost control.

Cannon testified that he was changing lanes when a black car merging onto the interstate failed to slow down, forcing him to suddenly veer away to avoid a collision. He said the black car sped on and he lost control of his truck. He admitted that he may have been speeding, but only “a little bit,” and denied he was swerving from lane to lane.

The defense sought to present the testimony of an expert witness who was prepared to testify that based on his examination of the evidence, Cannon was traveling no more than 62 miles an hour and more likely closer to 55 miles an hour. In addition, the expert intended to testify that there were defects in the road design that supported Cannon’s version of events. In particular, the expert concluded that the merging lane was too short for the speeds allowed and as a result merging autos forced their way into traffic.

The expert was barred from testifying after Cannon’s defense attorney failed to properly notify the prosecution before trial of the expert’s conclusions.

Cannon’s mother, Ginger, testified that she and Cannon’s father were following Cannon and that he was not speeding. She said he was not swerving in and out of traffic.

On April 23, 2015, the jury convicted Cannon of all charges. He was sentenced to eight years in prison.

In June 2016, during a deposition being taken as part of a civil lawsuit brought on behalf of the estate of Camie and Stephen Joyner, a police officer involved in the investigation of the crash was asked about the recorded statements. The officer left the deposition and went to the police station. There, she located the recordings on a computer, downloaded them, and turned them over to the lawyers involved in the case.

Those lawyers then provided the statements to Michael Schiavone, the attorney who had taken over the case after Cannon’s conviction. One of the statements was from Tom Schadle, an off-duty emergency medical technician. Schadle said he was right behind a black car merging onto the interstate and saw the black car barrel into traffic, causing Cannon’s truck to swerve to avoid a collision. Schadle’s account was precisely what Cannon told the jury had occurred.

Schadle was never called as a witness because the detective who took the audio statement misrepresented the statement in his written report. The detective reported only that Schadle said Cannon’s truck was traveling at a high rate of speed and as traffic slowed, it swerved and went out of control. The written statement omitted entirely any mention of a merging car.

Schiavone, who was already pursing a motion for new trial based on the trial defense lawyer’s failure to properly present the expert’s conclusions that the roadway defects were the cause of the crash, amended his motion to include the failure of the prosecution to disclose Schadle’s statement.

In December 2016, Chatham County Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley granted the motion and ordered a new trial. Walmsley ruled that Cannon’s lawyer had provided an inadequate legal defense by failing to present the expert’s testimony, and also ruled that Cannon had been denied a fair trial by the prosecution’s failure to disclose Schadle’s audio interview.

The judge ruled that Schadle’s audio account provided “direct impeachment” of prosecution witnesses who said that Cannon was speeding and weaving back and forth. In addition, Schadle’s account supported Cannon’s testimony of what occurred.

Cannon was released on bond on January 12, 2017. On January 2, 2018, as the date for a retrial approached, the prosecution dismissed the charges.

– Maurice Possley

Report an error or add more information about this case.

Posting Date: 1/11/2018
State:Georgia
County:Chatham
Most Serious Crime:Manslaughter
Additional Convictions:Other Violent Felony, Traffic Offense
Reported Crime Date:2013
Convicted:2015
Exonerated:2018
Sentence:8 years
Race:Caucasian
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:22
Contributing Factors:Official Misconduct, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No