Gerald Culverson, Suspected in Girlfriend's Death, Injured by Hit-and-Run Driver; No Apparent Connection, Cops Say

Gerald Culverson of Chandler walked out of jail without charges earlier this month after being accused of killing his girlfriend, but ended up in a hospital one week later following a hit-and-run collision.

No apparent connection exists between the collision and the earlier arrest of Culverson, Chandler police say.

Regardless, it's sure been a heck of a month for Culverson, whom police had accused of killing and mutilating his girlfriend, Deborah Courtney.

See also: Gerald Lee Culverson of Chandler Released from Jail Without Charge; Cops Back Off Murder Accusation, Retract Worst Details of Victim's Bitten Breasts

Police now say it's unclear whether Courtney's death was due to homicide or natural causes.

Culverson, her 58-year-old live-in boyfriend, was released from jail when a preliminary autopsy report indicated that what had appeared to be a deep, brain-scratching gash in her head was, in fact, more like a flesh wound.

Authorities first learned of the death after Culverson called 911 to report that she'd taken a serious fall at the home. Cops arriving on the scene misjudged the visible injuries on Courtney. A police report states that one of Courtney's nipples had been nearly severed -- which turned out to be wild exaggeration.

Culverson, who was hammered on booze at the time, admitted to biting his girlfriend during "nasty sex," but it turned out that the bites hardly rose to the level of mutilation. Police were concerned about Culverson's potential culpability, but had nothing on which to hold him. Culverson was released from jail.

A week later, at about 9 p.m. on April 8, Culverson was pushing a shopping cart across Warner Road, "significantly" impaired by alcohol, says Chandler police Sergeant Joe Favazzo.

A vehicle identified only as a silver passenger car struck Culverson and drove away, leaving him unconscious and bleeding on the roadway.

Culverson was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.

Favazzo says the hit-and-run investigation is still active.

As far as Courtney's death: Detectives still view it as suspicious, Favazzo says.

Courtney may have had a history of alcoholism, and of falling down, he says. The final report from the medical examiner's office will be key to the case.

It may turn out that Culverson had nothing to do with Courtney's death, but that doesn't mean cops weren't right to arrest him in the first place, Favazzo says. Courtney's bloody body, even if the wounds weren't as serious as cops first believed, combined with Culverson's statements to police about biting her, made the death appear highly questionable, he says.

I think a reasonable person would be like, 'yeah, I think he killed her,'" Favazzo says.

If you have any information about either of these crimes, call Chandler police.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.