Jerry Elder Jr.

Jerry Elder Jr., 45, of Flint, Michigan, pleaded not guilty to murder, a capital offense, first-degree assault, a Class B felony; second-degree assault, a Class C felony; and two counts of wanton endangerment, a Class D felony, during his arraignment in Franklin Circuit Court Friday morning. (Photo by Chris Easterly)

A Michigan truck driver pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges in Franklin Circuit Court on Friday morning.

Jerry Elder Jr., 45, of Flint, was indicted by a grand jury this week on charges of murder, a capital offense; first-degree assault, a Class B felony; second-degree assault, a Class C felony; and two counts of wanton endangerment, a Class D felony.

Shortly after 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 28, Elder crashed his fully loaded tractor-trailer into two vehicles on Interstate 64 near the west Frankfort exit because he was distracted by a video playing on his dashboard-mounted cellphone and failed to slow down in a construction zone, according to Kentucky State Police.

Jeffrey Curtis, 61, of Bedford, who was rear-ended by Elder, was pronounced dead at the scene by Franklin County Coroner Will Harrod. Both the semi tractor-trailer and Curtis’ Jeep Liberty collided with a Ford Explorer being driven by Trina Summers, 61, of Shepherdsville. Elder and Summers were transported to Frankfort Regional Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.

Elder was originally charged with manslaughter, but the grand jury indicted him on more serious charges on Tuesday.

He is being held in the Franklin County Regional Jail on a $50,000 full-cash bond.

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