Niagara Gazette

Local News

March 14, 2013

Falls man gets 4 to 12 years in prison for fatal DWI crash


Niagara Gazette — Following the accident, Smith was charged with first-degree vehicular manslaughter, second-degree vehicular assault and DWI. He pleaded guilty to the charges in January. 

In addition to the prison sentence, Wolfgang revoked Smith's license and ordered him to a five years of post-release probation. Judge Penny Wolfgang could have sentenced Smith to 5 to 15 years, and said Thursday she took Smith's remorse and his guilty plea into account. 

But Chuck Elberson, Jocelyn's father, said he was disappointed by the sentence.

"New York state doesn't hand out the best sentences for this kind of crime," he said. "Something's got to change, he didn't learn." 

Prior to the sentencing Thursday, the prosecutor on the case, Assistant District Attorney Kelley Omel, cited Smith's six previous drinking and driving convictions. 

"It's not a situation where this is his first encounter with the law,"  Omel said. "This defendant has been warned five times about drinking and driving."

In response, Smith's lawyer, Joel Daniels, cited Smith's character and his commitment to his job at Dunlop, where he worked for 23 years. 

"He's the kind of guy who, if you needed something, he was there for you," Daniels said. "He has been driving motorcycles for most of his life, and before November, he never had an accident." 

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