The prosecution and defense rested their cases late Wednesday afternoon in the trial of Larry Dale Smith, who pleaded guilty to evading arrest and not guilty to a drug charge following a Dec. 17 police chase.
District Attorney Micheal Murray and defense attorney Evan Stubbs were preparing to make final arguments, and District Judge Steve Ellis indicated he wanted jurors to begin deliberating Wednesday evening.
Smith, 42, pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to evading arrest as jurors were about to hear attorneys’ opening statements. He pleaded not guilty to a charge of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. Smith also denied the state’s contention that the car he was driving was a deadly weapon as he fled from police Lt. John Harper’s attempted traffic stop.
Smith, with his son and another man in the car, ran several red lights and stop signs and nearly collided with several vehicles, according to testimony.
Someone in the car threw out a small container with methamphetamine during the chase, testimony showed. The prosecution contended that Smith, while not the owner of the drugs, knew they were in the car and was guilty under the “law of parties.”
Murray called Smith’s son, Joshua, and Clayton Seale, the other passenger in the car Larry Dale Smith drove on Dec. 17.
Joshua Smith is serving a seven-year prison sentence for sexual assault, and Seale is serving a 15-year sentence in an unrelated drug case, according to testimony.
Joshua Smith, 22, testified that his father did not know that Seale had drugs in the car when Harper tried to stop it for traffic violations. He also testified that he had used drugs earlier that day but that he had not seen Seale or his father using drugs. He further testified that he had not feared for his life as his father drove while Harper and other law enforcement officers pursued them.
Murray then called Assistant District Attorney Sam Moss as a witness, who testified about a meeting the two prosecutors had with Joshua Smith and Seale Monday night.
The meeting took place at the Brown County Jail, and Murray told Smith to tell the truth irrespective of whether it helped or hurt the state’s case, or did not affect it.
Smith told the prosecutors his father and Seale had used drugs before the pursuit began, and that Larry Dale Smith had told Seale to get rid of the drugs during the pursuit, Moss testified. He also told Murray and Moss that he had feared for his life during the pursuit and that he wasn’t going to do time for his father, Moss testified.
Under Stubbs’ cross-examination, Moss acknowledged that Joshua Smith had not been under oath when he met with the prosecutors Monday night and that there had been no legal requirement for him to tell the truth.
Stubbs suggested that Joshua Smith, in order to “get back at the state,” had told Murray and Moss “what they wanted to hear” and then came into court and told the truth.
“I disagree with that,” Moss said.