XENIA — A Xenia woman will spend seven years in prison for causing a crash that killed a Bowersville man in 2016.
Judge Stephen Wolaver sentenced Kathy Smith, 65, April 11 in Greene County Common Pleas Court to concurrent terms of seven years for aggravated vehicular homicide, five years for aggravated vehicular assault and six months for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol (OVI) for her role in the two-car crash on Hussey Road Aug. 27, 2016 in Caesar Creek Township that killed Raymond Deyo, 68, and injured his wife Linda Deyo, 68.
Wolaver also suspended Smith’s license for life.
“As far as any case I’ve had to handle in this court, I probably put more time and thought as to what’s the appropriate disposition in this matter,” Wolaver said. “The court begins with the understanding that this case is a tragedy of monumental proportion for virtually everyone sitting on the other side of that rail. We’re all diminished by the loss of a human being … ”
Wolaver explained that he took into consideration Raymond Deyo’s death and Linda Deyo’s injuries, as well as Smith’s age, frailty and background in the Xenia community. Twelve community members wrote letters to the judge out of concern for Smith.
“Kathy’s devastated … by the sorrow suffered by the Deyo family … by her severe injury from this crash … by her post-accident cancer surgeries,” defense attorney Peter Certo said. “Unfortunately she can never explain what happened because she simply can’t remember the facts of that day.”
Certo asked for the minimum sentence, while assistant prosecutors David Morrison and Cheri Stout recommended the maximum.
“What makes this case so difficult is that it is not the traditional homicide case. Virtually anyone in this room who drinks alcohol and has a driver’s license could be sitting in that seat … I’m not really sure that there is such thing as a just decision in this case,” Wolaver continued. “The court believes that the message that I must give is that this sort of behavior … is not an acceptable form of conduct in this community.”
Records show Smith was convicted of an OVI in 2013.
“Probably what the case presents to this court as much as anything is the significance of the defendant’s drinking and alcoholic background that essentially brought forth this tragedy,” Wolaver said.
During the hearing, Raymond Deyo’s wife and daughter addressed the court.
“I feel that the court system needs to be a little stronger on repeat offenders,” Linda Deyo said. “It shouldn’t have to come to this. I know we can’t spare everybody’s life but when you do it over and over and over again — I think we need to be firmer on those people that make bad choices to get in a car and drink and drive. His life was cut short so no matter what the sentence today, it’s not going to bring him back.”
“I just want to say my dad was a good man, he was a good father, he was a good husband to my mom. He would do anything to help out anybody. My dad raised us that when you do something you take the punishment,” Julie Deyo said, turning to Smith. “You want to sit there and act like you don’t want to go to prison for what you’ve done — I feel like I’ve lived in prison for the last 2 and a half years for what you’ve done. That’s how you’ve changed my life and my family’s life.”
Smith also stood up to speak.
“I want to tell Mrs. Deyo and the rest of her family how sorry I am that Mr. Deyo lost his life … I ask God every day why was it not me, instead of Mr. Deyo?” she said, crying.
Smith sat down and put her head in her hands.
“This is a tragedy all around,” Stout said outside the courtroom. “I’m happy to see that justice was done for the family … and that the defendant and public understand that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.”
During the trial, the prosecution argued that Smith’s Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .343 and her verbal admittance to having had wine — coupled by her car’s estimated speed, bad weather and unsafe tire tread — proved she was intoxicated and driving recklessly. The legal limit for driving in Ohio is .08.
But the defense argued that Smith’s BAC test result was inaccurate and impossible — a “false positive” — and that there was no evidence of recklessness.
After fewer than three hours of deliberation Jan. 31, a jury found Smith guilty on five charges.