Man receives probation for lying in assault case

Defendant's brother, 49, ran over acquaintance with SUV during dispute

November 14, 2003|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

A Fairfax, Va., man who lied to police to protect his brother, after the brother ran over another man with a sport utility vehicle last year, was sentenced to two years' probation yesterday.

Douglas C. Smith, 46, recanted statements that softened his brother's role in the New Year's Eve assault in North Laurel, his lawyer said. The action by his brother left the victim, Dennis Roy, with a crushed pelvis and internal injuries, prosecutors said.

"He thought he was helping his brother. Little did he know that he was probably hurting his brother, hurting himself and hurting the case," Smith's lawyer, Jason A. Shapiro, told Howard Circuit Judge Dennis M. Sweeney.

But prosecutor Lynn Marshall argued that Smith's role was more extensive than just lying to police. Witnesses saw Smith chasing Roy and cursing at him, and Smith rifled through Roy's pockets while he was lying injured on the ground, Marshall said. She asked Sweeney to send Smith to prison.

"His behavior was abhorrent, and we believe a substantial period of incarceration is warranted," she said.

Sweeney sentenced Smith, who pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice last month, to one year in jail but suspended that sentence. The judge placed Smith on two years' probation and ordered him to pay a $1,000 fine.

Smith's brother, Steven Smith, 49, pleaded guilty to felony assault in September and is scheduled for sentencing Dec. 4.

Shapiro said yesterday that the crime started in Steven Smith's Scaggsville Road home, where the brothers confronted Roy to get back their mother's Cadillac, which Roy was using. Roy would not give them the keys to a steering wheel lock and took off running - with Douglas Smith behind him, Shapiro said.

Prosecutors said witnesses saw Douglas Smith running after Roy. Smith then got into the back seat of the sport utility vehicle his brother was driving on Gross Avenue, according to a statement of the case read into the record last month. Steven Smith then drove onto a lawn and knocked over Roy, running him over, prosecutors said.

Steven Smith let Douglas Smith out of the vehicle and drove off, prosecutors said.

Douglas Smith was arrested at the scene and initially told police officers that he grabbed the wheel from his brother, causing him to run over Roy, according to the statement. Police later determined that Douglas Smith was in the back seat, the prosecutor said.

Douglas Smith owns a construction and home improvement company in Virginia and has worked as a minister, Shapiro said. He is a "good man" who "stumbled," Shapiro said.

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