Man Arrested For Chase Said He Had Changed
January 8, 2010, 8:43 PM
We are starting to learn more about the man involved in a deadly chase and crash in December. Jason Larsen-Smith lead a Highway Patrol trooper on an eight minute chase that ended with a deadly crash.
Friday, Larsen-Smith made his first court appearance and Sioux Falls Police said his blood alcohol level at the time was 0.125, well over the limit of 0.08.The chronic drunk driver is accused of running from the law and killing 62 year old Curtis Neuharth, a Sioux Falls School District custodian. Larsen-Smith is now charged with vehicular manslaughter and his eighth DUI.
KELOLAND News obtained a copy of the transcript from when Jason Larsen-Smith was sentenced for his seventh DUI. It details his struggle with alcohol and gives a glimpse at his lifetime of troubles with the law.
In December 2007 Larsen-Smith pleaded guilty to his seventh DUI. He was on parole at the time and his attorney, Jason Adams, said it was the longest stint his client had ever been on parole without having a run-in with the law.
When Larsen-Smith was pulled over for that DUI the transcript says he tried to jump in the back seat of his vehicle to make it look like he wasn't driving. After police arrested him his blood alcohol level was 0.13.
Larsen-Smith's attorney told Judge Brad Zell during the sentencing that his client had just broken up with his girlfriend, and the mother of his child, when he decided to drink and get behind the wheel. He went on to say Larsen-Smith had a serious alcohol problem.
Even Larsen-Smith said himself that he had made changes in his life and was shocked that he was facing prison time again.
"I've made a lot of changes in my life. The last time, I didn't think I'd ever be back in court again. I guess I'm shocked. I thought I was doing the right thing. I relapsed, and here I am," Larsen-Smith told Judge Zell during the 2007 hearing.
Deputy Minnehaha County States Attorney Randy Sample made a plea deal with Larsen-Smith, capping his prison sentence at five years instead of the maximum of ten. But even Sample told Judge Zell it was a 'generous' sentence and Larsen-Smith had a history of putting the community in danger.
Judge Zell told Larsen-Smith that alcohol was his 'demon,' and sentenced him to the five year term, but that meant Larsen-Smith would be parole eligible in two years.
Two years after that sentencing in September of 2009 Larsen-Smith was paroled. It only took him three months to get in trouble with the law again. Now, he is accused of causing a deadly chase and crash that has the 30 year old Sioux Falls man facing many more years in prison.
Sioux Falls Police told KELOLAND News Friday that they believe Larsen-Smith was not only driving drunk when he hit the pick-up Curtis Neuharth was driving, but he had also just blown through a red light and hit the truck at a speed of 65 miles per hour.
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