Gregg Allman filmmakers plead not guilty to Georgia manslaughter charges

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[July 18, 2014]  LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The director and producer of a film about rock singer Gregg Allman on Thursday said they pleaded not guilty in Georgia on charges stemming from a death on the set of the movie "Midnight Rider."

Director Randall Miller and his wife, producer Jody Savin, were indicted, along with executive producer Jay Sedrish, two weeks ago on involuntary manslaughter charges after a camera operator was killed in February when she was struck by a train during production.

Miller and Savin said in a statement released by their attorney that in their more than two decades in the film and television industry, they have always emphasized safety on set.

"In the weeks and months that follow when the true facts of the events are revealed, people will know that this was not a crime: We never had criminal intent; we would never knowingly or intentionally put anybody's safety at risk," the couple said in a statement. "This was a horrible tragedy and a horrific accident."

Atlanta resident Sarah Elizabeth Jones, 27, died on Feb. 20 after an oncoming train tore through the set while the movie crew installed equipment to film on some train tracks and a trestle bridge in rural Wayne County near Savannah.

Her death sparked an awareness campaign in Hollywood about safety for crew on film sets, and at the Oscars ceremony earlier this year, Jones' name was included in the "in memoriam" tribute segment.

Six other crew members were injured during the accident.

An attorney for Sedrish did not immediately return a call seeking information on when the producer would enter a plea.

Authorities have said the film company, Unclaimed Freight Productions Inc, did not have permission to film on an active train track. It did have permission to be on property nearby.

The manslaughter charges against Miller, Savin and Sedrish could bring a possible sentence of 10 years in prison.

Jones' parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Miller, Allman, production companies involved with the film and the operators of the trains and owners of the land that the incident occurred on.

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Mary Milliken and Cynthia Osterman)

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