A man struck by a van in front of the Olde South Liquor store on Wednesday, May 5, has died and the driver of the van is now charged with murder.

According to Chief Bill Ashburn of the Madison Police Department, Christopher Smith, 28, of Madison, died last Wednesday, May 12, at Piedmont Hospital in Athens.

At the time of the incident Joel Massey, 69, of Madison, was arrested at the scene and charged with aggravated assault. Ashburn said Massey was served with murder warrants at the Morgan County Detention Center the same day as Smith’s death.

Ashburn said in an earlier interview that Massey and Smith had a verbal altercation in the liquor store parking lot prior to the 6:45 p.m. incident. The police chief said that video surveillance from the store allegedly showed Massey intentionally strike Smith with his green minivan.

The impact of the strike caused Smith to violently strike his head against the pavement. When officers arrived at the scene, they observed Smith laying near the front driver’s side tire of Massey’s vehicle. A police officer noted that Smith was unresponsive and the officer could not find a pulse and started CPR until paramedics arrived and took over attempts to save Smith’s life. Smith was transported to Piedmont Hospital and placed on life support, Ashburn said.

Massey was also arrested on Feb. 11, 2009 for allegedly striking a woman with his vehicle in the same liquor store parking lot. In that incident, he was again charged with aggravated assault. According to Morgan County Superior Court records, Massey was charged in the 2009 incident after he allegedly intentionally struck a woman in the parking lot. An arrest warrant taken by the Madison Police Department at the time of the 2009 arrest alleges that when the female victim “turned and walked away to leave, the accused (Massey) then backed up and started to leave when he struck (the victim). (The victim) kept walking away when (Massey) drove the car toward (the victim) striking her and knocking her to the ground, then ran over her leg.”

However, that charge was eventually dismissed by then Assistant District Attorney Alison Burleson in June, 2010. According to court documents regarding the dismissal, the court noted that the “victim does not wish to prosecute and would testify for the defendant. Without cooperation of the victim we cannot proceed,” the document states.

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