Hancock Family Awaits Justice After 10 Years - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

10/29/04

Hancock Family Awaits Justice After 10 Years

"She was my life, she was someone who would walk in a room and bring smiles and laughter to everyone. Mom was my everything. When she was taken from me, my whole life was taken from me," says Melanie Leighton. 

On September 17, 1994, her mother, Marguerite Richardson, was was walking to a friend's house along Lakeshore Drive in Hancock County. Ronald Zoerner, who police say was driving drunk, hit her and then took off. The 48-year old woman died at the scene. Zoerner stood trial in 1996.

When Zoerner was convicted, Marguerite Richardson's family thought that was it, justice had been served. Little did they know that a few months later Zoerner put up a bond that allowed him to stay out of jail while his case was being appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court.  

Liz Troglen, the victim's sister says, "I have been angry since day one since I found out he has not served any time ya know. He had a chance to raise his family, my sister didn't."

In 1998, the high court threw out Zoerner's conviction and ordered a new trial. Zoerner will be tried again in december. Marguerite's family doesn't understand why it has taken so long.  

"I think it's time for him to do his time for killin' my sister. He's been free all this time. Any day that goes by is a day too long," Liz says.

Marguerite's daughter says since her mother died, she has missed so much.  

"I have an eight year old little boy she never got to see. I mean he's never gonna know how wonderful she was."

District Attorney Cono Caranna says it is unusual for a case to be delayed so long,  but he says his office has not deliberately avoided trying it again. The defendant, Ronald Zoerner, now lives in Alabama. His court appointed attorney told us he just recently got the case and hasn't had time to review it, so he can't comment.

byMarcia Hill

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