MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — A motion for a new trial and renewed motion for judgment of acquittal for the former Mobile doctor found guilty of murder has been denied, according to court documents.
Jonathan Nakhla, a former neurosurgeon at a local hospital, was found guilty of murder after a 2020 crash left University of South Alabama medical student Samantha Thomas dead. On May 19, Nakhla’s defense filed a motion for a new trial on the bases that a juror had not lived in Mobile County 12 months before the trial or during the trial.
The accused juror, Melinda Pate, took the stand during a hearing for a new trial on June 14. Pate testified that she had stayed with friends and family in Baldwin County “on and off” since 2018, but her main residence was at her dad’s home in Mobile County. She claimed she moved in with her girlfriend in Loxley in March.
Prosecutors said Pate was a registered voter in Mobile County and the address on her driver’s license was in the county. The defense claimed Pate’s car had been registered at her girlfriend’s location in Loxley for three consecutive years.
In court documents released Tuesday, the judge said he denied Nakhla’s request for a new trial and his renewed motion for acquittal.
“I am pleased that Judge Pipes denied the motion for a new trial for Jonathan Nakhla. Our Assistant District Attorneys, Trial Coordinators, Investigators and many other members of the DA Team worked tirelessly on this case that ultimately earned a unanimous guilty verdict. Jurors are a fundamental part of the judicial process and their service should be commended,“ said Mobile District Attorney Keith Blackwood.
The family of Samantha Thomas had this to say:
“Our family is ecstatic! We thank the jury once again especially Ms. Pate. For all serving and taking the time this trial took away from their own families and work. We thank God for the guidance and hope and faith that carried us through!
To Judge Pipes – we are pleased with his decision and thank you.
To D.A. Blackwood, his team and Ashley Rich, Lauren, we cannot thank you enough for your hard work and perseverance through the whole trial and in this last motion. “