Two months in jail for drunk driver who killed cousin in crash

By Matt McCutcheon - e-mail | bio

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A man who was driving drunk when he caused a fatal crash on I-65 near the Outer Loop learned his fate Friday.

Brenton Smith was drunk when he crashed his truck in August of 2009, killing Jason Smith - his cousin, roommate, and best friend.

In the end, the families involved all wanted the same thing: no jail time for Smith, but the final decision rested with Judge Judith McDonald Burkman.

There were tears and tense moments in the courtroom as the defendant and the victim's father, Doug Smith, pleaded with Burkman to spare Smith from jail time.

"We need a closure here that will us resolve this without me and my wife having to get up and drive to a prison to see our grandson through a prison bar. Jason wouldn't want it and I'm asking you for mercy with Brenton," Smith said when he addressed the court.

Court documents reveal both Brenton and Jason had been drinking, and Brenton said he drove drunk that night to remove Jason from an uncomfortable situation at a party.

After repeated pleas for probation from the entire Smith family, the prosecution offered a less-severe manslaughter charge instead of murder and wanted him to serve seven years in prison.

During Friday's proceedings, Smith had a chance to speak before Judge Burkman made her ruling.

"I miss my best friend greatly and would give anything to change the events of that night," Smith said. "I'm very lucky to have the loving and supportive family that I do. They've been by my side every step of this journey. At this point of my life, I try to lead by example and make Jason proud."

But in the end, Judge Burkman split the sentence between jail time and probation.

"On paper it may appear and does appear to potentially depreciate the live lost," Burkman said in making her ruling. "The other factors - would you get appropriate treatment, rehab in prison? No, no you would not."

The sentencing includes 60 days of jail time at the Community Corrections Center, 90 days home incarceration, 5 years of probation, 200 hours of community service, a $1,000 fine and court costs, along with other stipulations regarding employment and schooling.

Copyright 2010 WAVE News. All rights reserved.