Courtroom heavy with emotion in drunk driver sentencing

Wife of Crisp Co. deputy killed in 2017

Don Smith sentencing hearing

PERRY, GA (WALB) - A man who was found guilty in an accident that killed the wife of a Crisp County deputy last year has been sentenced.

Donn Smith, 30, was charged with 1st-degree vehicle homicide, hit and run, DUI, open container and reckless driving. His attorney said he will serve seven years in prison and five years on parole.

The judge sentenced Smith to 12 years in prison.

The sentencing was decided Tuesday afternoon after the judge heard statements from both families.

Bernadette Crucilla, Thompson’s family attorney, read the statement from a woman who said Smith also hit her that same night.

“In driving the wrong way on the interstate, he first hit and struck a vehicle that was driven by (the woman)," Crucilla said. "She was able to proceed him coming and moved somewhat out of the way.”

The family’s attorney said after that, Smith hit Thompson head on causing her to die from her injuries.

Family reaction

The courtroom filled with tears from both sides of the aisle.

Donn Smith trial

There were tears on both sides of the aisle in the Houston County Courthouse on Tuesday. Donn Smith was sentenced in a drunk driving incident that killed Marci Thompson in 2017.

Posted by Marilyn Parker WALB on Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Many of Thompson’s family members, who gave statements to the judge, said Tuesday was not about anyone else but Marci.

“Even then the defendant will not serve the same sentence he gave Marci,” said Al Thompson.

Thompson’s family gathered in the Houston County Courthouse, wearing pins to honor her life and to hear the fate of the man who took her away from them.

They also asked Smith be given the maximum sentence for his actions.

“Mr. Smith will have a second chance at life with his family, my daughter Marci Belcher Thompson will never have that chance,” said Vickie Belcher, Thompson’s mother.

Crucilla said the maximum sentence was 15 years.

“Which was totally reasonable in our minds that he got 12 (years). But we asked for 10, so that was only a couple years difference,” Crucilla said.

Smith and members of his family were very apologetic for the Thompson family’s loss in the courtroom Tuesday.

Members of Thompson’s family said there were two families in the courtroom Tuesday that have been suffering for a while now, but they think was justice was served.

“Unfortunately you know it’s a tragedy for both families but we are happy the way it turned out today," Melissa Blecher, Thompson’s sister, said.

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