Man jailed for traffic fatality guilty of DWI Circuit judge convicts defendant paroled in manslaughter case

November 06, 1993|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Staff Writer

Stephen Michael Smith, convicted three years ago and sent to prison for an alcohol-related auto manslaughter, was in Baltimore County Circuit Court again yesterday, this time for drunken driving.

Judge John Owen Hennegan found Smith, 24, guilty yesterday of speeding and driving while intoxicated (DWI). The charges stem from a May 14 incident in which Smith had a blood-alcohol level of 0.17. The standard for driving while intoxicated is 0.10.

A county police officer testified that he followed Smith's pickup truck from the Baltimore Beltway onto northbound Interstate 83, and saw him speeding and repeatedly changing lanes without signaling. The officer pulled Smith over near the Timonium Road exit. According to the officer, Smith, of the 800 block of Wiseburg Road in White Hall, had difficulty with some parts of the field sobriety test, had bloodshot eyes, tousled hair and disheveled clothes.

On April 24, 1990, Smith was sentenced for auto manslaughter and ordered to serve two years of a three-year prison term.

The accident occurred just after 1 a.m. on July 15, 1989, when Smith, who had been drinking all night, sped south on York Road, suddenly changed lanes and hit Melvin Sanders Jr., 15.

Melvin, of the 5800 block of Northwood Drive in Baltimore, was riding his bicycle home with two friends when Smith hit him near the intersection of York and Aylesbury roads, said Deputy State's Attorney Sue A. Schenning.

The teen-ager and another youth had gone to meet a friend who worked at a Roy Rogers restaurant in Timonium. They were helping him carry home food that the manager had given them when the accident happened.

Melvin died instantly of head injuries. Smith fled.

Later, Smith's friends persuaded him to return to the scene. He passed out in the police car, then refused to take sobriety tests, although he looked as if he had been drinking and smelled of alcohol, police said.

Smith told police, "It's like there was a bunch of . . . playing games. He just pulled out in front of me. You have to ride by the bus stops and see them playing . . . games all the time. He belongs in Baltimore City, anyway."

The victim's friends told police they heard an engine's roar, then saw a speeding car suddenly change into the right lane where it struck Melvin.

At the time of his manslaughter conviction, Smith already had received probation before judgment for reckless driving in 1987, and for a January 1988 arrest for slashing tires, fleeing and reckless driving, Ms. Schenning said. He was on probation from the 1988 offenses when Melvin died.

Smith was paroled in 1991, after serving a year and three months on the manslaughter conviction. He was supposed to begin three years of probation with alcohol counseling, but parole and probation officers didn't find out he was supposed to be under their supervision until the May 14 arrest. Senior Agent John Jones testified yesterday that a clerical error caused the mix-up.

Judge Hennegan said that didn't change the fact that Smith is on probation until July 1994. He ruled that Smith had violated probation, which could add another year to the one-year maximum sentence Smith could receive for the DWI conviction.

Defense attorney Richard M. Karceski asked that Smith, a mechanic at a Lutherville Shell station, be allowed to remain free until sentencing Jan. 6.

Judge Hennegan refused, saying Smith "has a drinking problem [that] already has resulted in . . . one death. . . ."

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