Reckless homicide charge tacked onto hit-and-run case

Knox County State’s Attorney John Pepmeyer filed an additional charge of reckless homicide against Lakeesha D. Smith in court Monday, lengthening the maximum sentence she could face if convicted in last week’s hit-and-run death of Tundun Lawani ’14.


Mugshot of Lakeesha Smith, 33, of McKnight Street. Smith is being charged in the death of Tundun Lawani ’14. (Courtesy of the Knox County Jail)

Smith, 33, of McKnight Street, was arrested last Sunday following an investigation of Lawani’s death. She was charged with leaving the scene of a fatality and two counts of aggravated DUI in connection with the incident, and the additional charge alone, a class 3 felony, could carry up to a 10-year sentence.

Smith made a brief court appearance Monday before Circuit Judge James B. Stewart following last week’s initial hearing when the judge set bond for Smith at $100,000. On Monday, Smith requested a public defender be appointed to represent her since she had not yet found an attorney.

Smith, who has not posted the $10,000 required to leave jail, appeared in court handcuffed and wearing orange jail scrubs. While waiting in the completely filled courtroom, she mostly looked down at the floor before speaking with the judge. Around 10 Knox students, faculty and staff were in attendance.

Smith was arrested last Sunday several hours after the fatal incident, which occurred around 3:30 a.m. Police used Knox surveillance footage to identify her blue 1997 Ford Taurus, prosecutors said in last Monday’s bond hearing.

Smith told investigators she had been drinking between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. Her blood-alcohol level was .072 nearly four hours after the incident, according to police records.

Smith had no prior record of DUI, but was cited twice in 2006 for driving with a revoked license, according to Illinois Secretary of State spokesman Dave Druker.

In Galesburg, Smith was arrested for aggravated battery in 2003 and disorderly conduct this past April, according to police records. At the time of the incident, she was on probation for a retail theft in Peoria County in 2010. She was also convicted of check fraud in Peoria County in 2005.

Smith’s next court appearance is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 9 at the Knox County Courthouse.

Co-News Editor Matt McKinney contributed to this report.


Related: Knox community reflects on the life of Tundun Lawani


Charlie Megenity
Charlie Megenity (formerly Gorney) is a senior double majoring in political science and economics. He previously served TKS as managing editor and as co-news editor while working as the weekend reporter for The Galesburg Register-Mail. Over the summer of 2012, Charlie interned in Wisconsin with, an online hyperlocal news source, where he covered the August 2012 Oak Creek Sikh temple shooting; he will return to Patch during the summer of 2013. He is also the journalism editor for Catch magazine.. Charlie has received three awards from the Illinois College Press Association for newswriting and design, including a first place award for front page layout. He was the 2013 recipient of the Theodore Hazen Kimble Memorial Award in Journalism for a feature story published in The Knox Student. His work has also appeared in The Huffington Post.

Tags:  hit-and-run James B. Stewart john pepmeyer Knox Knox County Courthouse Lakeesha Smith reckless homicide Tundun Lawani

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