Man pleads guilty to 2007 hit-and-run

April 28, 2008 1:51:02 PM PDT
Richard Anderson Smart, Jr. pleaded guilty to second degree murder Monday following an incident on July 29, 2007.

In July 2007, Smart avoided a Wake County Sheriff's Office DWI checkpoint, killed a man on a scooter, and injured three other people.

Monday, he also pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, felony speeding to elude, driving while license revoked, and misdemeanor hit-and-run with property damage. He will be sentenced Tuesday at 9:30 a.m.

Smart was taken into custody August 2, 2007 and was held in the Wake County Jail without bond.

Smart Jr. has multiple DWI convictions and was driving on a revoked license July 28, 2007. He was originally charged with; voluntary manslaughter, assault with a deadly weapon, misdemeanor hit-and-run, felony eluding and speeding to elude.

Garner Police Sgt. Joe Binns says Wake County Sheriff's deputies started chasing Smart Jr.'s dark sedan when it made a U-turn on Highway 401 south, in the early morning of July 29, 2007. He turned east onto Highway 70, Binns said, and out of the Sheriff's deputies sights.

Binns says the Smart Jr. was traveling at a high rate of speed and slammed into a moped at Highway 70 and Loop Road. The passenger, 25-year-old Christopher Gonzalez-Gutierrez of Raleigh, was killed. The moped's driver, 25-year-old Jesus Gonzales-Orozco, was also injured in and transported to Wake Med. The two men were wearing construction hats at the time of the crash according to Binns, not DOT approved helmets.

Smart Jr. continued east on Highway 70 and took the Vandora Springs Road exit in Garner. Binns says the driver hit a Honda that was stopped at the light, went down an embankment and into the parking lot of BB&T bank. That's where he got out of the car and ran away.

The two women in the Honda were treated and released from the hospital.

Jewia Taylor, the passenger in the Honda, tells Eyewitness News that she feels lucky. "Had our car been stopped a few inches further up Vandora Springs it would have been a lot worse."

Instead the suspect hit the front quarter panel of their car. "I have no tolerance for anyone who drinks and drives," Taylor said. "I feel really bad for the families (of the injured and deceased), that could've been us."

Garner Police Sgt. Joe Binns says checkpoints are usually set up in a safe manner and are very successful in getting drunk drivers, wanted persons and other law breakers off the streets.

"This man obviously has no respect for authority, life or property. We need to get him off the streets," Binns said.


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