The six-day trial of a man who was drinking and driving and on drugs when he killed a 7-year-old North Port girl ended with a guilty verdict. Ronald Judson Smith was facing DUI manslaughter charges and on top of the Florida DUI penalties that come with the manslaughter charge, he could be facing 60 years in prison following the sentencing phase.
On the night of the accident Smith was driving with a suspended license from a previous DUI charge. He ran a red light at the intersection of State Road 776 and Toledo Blade Boulevard and crashed into a Ford Mustang. The impact flipped the car that was carrying a North Port family. Ten days after the accident Sarah-Dian Heinman died from the injuries she suffered in the wreck. Her father and older sister spent weeks recovering in the hospital. According to reports, following the crash a witness reportedly saw the defendant throw beer cans and a prescription drug bottle into the woods.
Smith was standing trial on charges of DUI manslaughter, driving with a suspended license, refusal to submit to a breath test, DUI with property damage, DUI with serious bodily injury and assault on a police officer. He is also facing drug charges for possession of Xanax and Oxycodone without a prescription. He was convicted on seven of the eight counts he was facing. Sentencing is scheduled for June 25.
The jury in Smith’s case deliberated three hours before coming back with seven guilty verdicts. The only charge that Smith was found not guilty of was assault on a police officer. The trial was described as “highly emotional” and the family of the victim was seen fighting back tears in the Charlotte County courtroom.