Drag Racer pleads guilty to negligent homicide

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune
Author: Michael Vigh
Date: April 12, 2002

  A teen-age drag racer who lost control of his Porsche and hit and killed a 13-year-old pedestrian last summer in Murray pleaded guilty Thursday to a misdemeanor charge of negligent homicide.
    In a plea bargain in juvenile court, Kimble Smith also pleaded guilty to two mis- demeanor counts of assault for hitting three other boys, and one count each of reckless driving and exhibition driving.
    Smith, originally charged with second-degree felony manslaughter, turned to the victims' family members -- who packed the courtroom -- and apologized.
    "I'm very sorry to everyone that's involved," said Smith, who says he hopes to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and someday attend college.
    Smith, now 18, will be sentenced April 24. In adult court, negligent homicide is punish- able by up to a year in jail. The other misdemeanors each carry a possible sentence of less than a year in jail.
    In the juvenile court system, an offender may be incarcerated only until the age of 21.
    Third District Juvenile Court Judge Andrew Valdez said Smith could serve time in a youth lockup, be sent to a foster home or be placed in a wilderness program. Smith has also been required to yield his driver license.
    Prosecutor Beth Lindsley declined to say what sentence she will seek, but said the plea agreement ensures that Smith "is held accountable for what he did."
    Lindsley acknowledged that some family members of the victims expressed "reservations" about the agreement.
    Family members declined to comment, but will probably speak at Smith's sentencing hearing.
    Smith's attorney, Scott Williams, said Smith "has been devastated by these tragic circumstances from the beginning. There has always been a desire by my client to express his sorrow."
    Police said Smith, then 17, was driving a Porsche 944 Turbo on Aug. 31 when he raced Murray High School classmate Christian Paul, who was driving a Toyota MR2. Smith was leading the slower Toyota when he lost control and killed 13-year-old Craig Warburton.
    Police said Smith was traveling at least 80 mph when his car skidded and spun off the roadway near 5900 S. Murray Parkway Ave. (1000 West). Smith testified at Paul's trial that he had new tires on the car and felt "invincible."
    In December, Paul was acquitted of manslaughter and three counts of felony assault. Valdez ruled that Paul was only guilty of exhibition driving because he was not responsible for Smith's collision with Warburton.