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Ellen Bengtson's death appeared to her family to be an open-and-shut case.

The 28-year-old chemical engineer was riding her bicycle on Aug. 2, 2020, just outside Charles City when she was struck from behind by a Ford F-150. The driver, Colby Elliott, 45, of Clarksville, admitted on video at the scene that he'd been looking at his phone and hadn't seen her before the collision.

Bengtson died of her injuries at a hospital, and Colby was charged with reckless homicide by vehicle, punishable with up to 10 years in prison.

But when the case went to trial in April, the court found the facts to be less clear-cut. After Floyd County prosecutors finished presenting their case, Judge Dedra Schroeder granted Elliott's motion for a directed verdict, dismissing the case before it reached the jury. Schroeder found that "the evidence presented by the state, viewed in the light most favorable to the state, is insufficient to sustain a conviction."


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