A former Mobile neurosurgeon was found guilty Tuesday in the death of a third-year medical student in 2020. A jury found that Jonathan Nakhla caused the death of Samantha Thomas in a car crash around 12:41 a.m. on Aug. 1, 2020.
Prosecutors claimed Nakhla was driving, and Thomas was a passenger when the vehicle crashed on West Service Road near Interstate 65 in Mobile. The speed limit on the road is 45 mph, but data from the crash shows Nakhla was likely driving 138 mph. The vehicle left the roadway, struck a concrete ditch, then continued until it struck a guardrail, rolled six times, hit a light pole and landed upside down.
Nakhla was hurt in the crash, but Thomas didn’t make it. Her family filed a wrongful death lawsuit saying their daughter, a University of South Alabama medical student, was with Nakhla after the two had been drinking by their apartment complex pool.
After the guilty verdict, Thomas' family said they were thankful that justice would be served, but the trial process weighed heavily on them emotionally.
"Reliving it step by step was pretty rough," said Harold Thomas, the victim's father. "It's never going away, and she's not coming back."
The Mobile Police Department confirmed Nakhla’s blood-alcohol level was over the legal limit after the crash. He was initially charged with manslaughter, but that charge was upgraded to reckless murder in 2021.
Nakhla was fired from the Mobile Infirmary after he was charged in the case.
Nakhla will remain in jail until his sentencing hearing.
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