Man gets 7-year term for assault

He struck and ran over acquaintance with SUV in dispute over finances

North Laurel

December 05, 2003|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,SUN STAFF

A Howard Circuit Court judge handed down a seven-year prison term to a North Laurel man who ran over another man with his sport utility vehicle on New Year's Eve.

Steven R. Smith, 49, pleaded guilty to first-degree assault in September as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors that allowed him to avoid more serious attempted murder charges.

Smith struck and drove over Dennis Roy, 45, on a lawn on Gross Avenue in North Laurel, according to a statement of facts in the case. Roy suffered a crushed pelvis and internal injuries and had tire marks on his abdomen.

The case statement says the crime began with an argument over financial issues in Smith's home on New Year's Eve. Smith and his younger brother chased Roy out of the home and followed him through the neighborhood before running over him, according to the case statement.

Smith's brother - Douglas C. Smith, 46, of Fairfax, Va. - was in the SUV at the time and lied about some of the events to protect his brother. He was sentenced last month to two years' probation and a $1,000 fine.

In sentencing Steven Smith yesterday, Judge Lenore R. Gelfman stayed within the five-year to 10-year state guidelines for an assault conviction. She also recommended that Smith receive psychiatric and substance abuse treatment while in prison.

Gelfman credited Smith with 332 days of time served because he has been held without bond in the Howard County Detention Center since his arrest in early January.

Prosecutor Lynn Marshall argued that the judge should stay within the guidelines in sentencing Smith, saying there was "no justification" for running over Roy.

"The victim in this case was literally running for his life," Marshall said. Smith "doesn't get to decide who lives or dies."

Defense attorney Joseph Murtha described Smith as a middle-aged father who had recently been diagnosed with mental health problems. Murtha said Smith understood the consequences of his actions and that his life had been "decimated" by the events on New Year's Eve.

He also discussed Smith's relationship with Roy, which began when Smith met Roy while in prison for three months last year on an assault charge involving his wife.

Murtha characterized Roy as someone who had gained Smith's trust during their incarceration only to manipulate him. Roy was "motivated by economic gain in his relationship with Steven Smith," Murtha said.

Roy was not present in court yesterday, and he did not file a victim impact statement with the court. Marshall said that Roy had moved out of state.

In a statement to the judge yesterday, Smith said in a quivering voice that he regretted his actions. "I'm really and deeply sorry it happened," Smith said. "I wish I could change it. I never meant for it to happen."

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