Hit-and-run driver gets 6 years in cyclist’s death


HANCOCK COUNTY — Flanked by his attorneys, Jonathan K. Jacobi sat at the defense table with a mask across his face, eyes fixed and staring down as he waited to learn his fate for the fatal hit-and-run crash that killed a bicyclist in the summer of 2019.
Nearly two years after knocking Terry Huff, 67, Anderson, off his bicycle and leaving him in a ditch, Jacobi found out his punishment: He was given a six-year sentence on Monday, April 19. Four of the six years are to be spent in prison.
The details of a plea agreement were signed by Jacobi, his lawyers and an official from the prosecutor’s office in June 2020, but the deal was not officially accepted and finalized until last week, when Judge Scott Sirk handed down the term after a lengthy sentencing hearing in Hancock County Circuit Court. In addition to the prison time, Sirk told Jacobi the remainder of his term will be served on probation, with the first year on home detention. Jacobi was also ordered to participate in recovery programs while he is incarcerated.
More than 50 spectators were in the courtroom, and at least 40 others waited outside as Sirk announced the sentence. While the judge had the authority to sentence Jacobi to between two and 12 years, he followed the guidelines of the agreement, in which the prosecutor’s office had asked for a six-year sentence with a cap of four years served. The plea agreement called for Jacobi to plead guilty to a single charge, a Level 4 felony count of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death.
After the hearing, Huff’s sister Kenara Ellsworth-Nugent said that regardless of the sentence, she’ll never have her brother in her life. The siblings shared the responsibility nearly every day of caring for their mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease.
“No matter if there would have been zero time or life (in prison), there will never really be any true justice,” Ellsworth-Nugent said. “There is nothing that will ever bring Terry back.”
west of State Road 9 when he was struck from behind by a pickup truck. The force of the collision threw Huff and his mangled bicycle into a ditch, where he was spotted when a passing driver caught a glimpse of him off the side of the road. A 911 call was placed at about 10:25 a.m.
Huff, who was described by those who knew him as a kind man involved in many people’s lives, suffered multiple fractures and severe internal injuries. He died several days later after being taken off life support.
Jacobi, 39, McCordsville, drove the morning of the crash to a body shop in another county to have the collision damage on his truck repaired. Jacobi also lied to detectives about the hit-and-run crash when he was first interviewed and changed his story only after he was arrested.
Detectives were able to track Jacobi down after finding broken automotive parts at the scene and contacting repair shops. They also were able to view surveillance camera footage.
According to court records, one body shop representative told investigators a pickup truck matching the suspect vehicle’s description and registered to Jacobi had been dropped off shortly before 10:40 a.m. on July 26, 2019. That was 15 minutes after passers-by spotted Huff and called 911.
On April 19, Jacobi was taken into custody as soon as the sentencing hearing was completed. He was immediately booked into the county jail late that afternoon, to remain there until transfer to Indiana Department of Correction.
Huff’s family is left with some solace knowing the ordeal is finally over. However, Huff’s sister said they will never be the same and can only think of the song “Jealous of the Angels” when it comes to understanding the essence of the man they lost. The song by Irish singer-songwriter Donna Taggart articulates the deep grief of losing a loved one.
“The song sums up exactly how our family feels,” Ellsworth-Nugent said.