Smith pleads guilty, gets fewer charges

Mugshot of accused hit-and-run driver Lakeesha Smith, 33, of Galesburg. Smith is being charged in the death of Tundun Lawani '14. (Courtesy of Knox County Jail)

Mugshot of accused hit-and-run driver Lakeesha Smith, 33, of Galesburg. Smith is being charged in the death of Tundun Lawani ’14. (Courtesy of Knox County Jail)

Lakeesha Smith, the Galesburg woman charged with the hit-and-run death of Tundun Lawani ’14 on Oct. 28, 2012, pleaded guilty to reckless homicide and leaving the scene of an accident involving a death in a plea hearing Wednesday, according to the Galesburg Register-Mail. For the first count, Smith could face four to 15 years in prison, and for the second, she could face two to five years. Combined, her maximum sentence could be 20 years.

This is the result of a deal between Smith’s defense team and the state’s attorney’s office. According to Assistant State’s Attorney Elisa Tanner, a number of other charges against Smith, including aggravated DUI, were dropped in exchange for her guilty plea.

The state will also recommend a sentencing cap, although residing Judge Scott Shiplett stated that the court has the right to impose whatever sentence they deem appropriate based on the evidence provided.

Indeed, the evidence is fairly substantial. There were eyewitness accounts, surveillance video from Knox and parts from Smith’s blue 1997 Ford Taurus that were found at the scene.

Early on in the hearing, Shiplett asked Tanner to provide a summary of what happened on the night of the accident. Tanner recalled that Smith’s car collided with Lawani at speeds upwards of 45 mph as she was crossing South Street near its intersection with West Street around 3:30 a.m.

According to Tanner, Smith fled the scene because she was “scared,” as she did not want to see the body lying in the road and had been operating without insurance or a valid driver’s license. She had also been drinking from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m., she told investigators.

When she was taken to the hospital for facial wounds she received from the accident, she received a blood alcohol test that revealed her BAC to be around .072 nearly four hours after the incident.

Smith had no prior record of DUI, but was cited twice with driving with a revoked license in 2006, TKS reported in Nov.

The next step in this case will be a pre-sentencing investigation, in which details about Smith’s criminal record and work, medical and personal history will be compiled and presented to the court and both defense attorney Eric Bell and the state’s attorney’s office.

It is expected that Smith will be sentenced on Nov. 13.

Chelsea Embree
Chelsea Embree is a senior majoring in creative writing and minoring in art history. She previously served as co-mosaic editor and as an arts and features reporter for TKS. During the summer of 2013, she served as a content intern at The St. Louis Beacon. Chelsea has studied under former Random House copy chief Sean Mills and taught writing as a teaching assistant for First-Year Preceptorial. An avid blogger, she has written extensively about youth in St. Louis and maintains a lively poetry and nonfiction blog on Tumblr. She is also the director of communications for Mortar Board and co-president of Terpsichore Dance Collective.

Tags:  Campus Safety DUI elisa tanner Eric Bell Galesburg Galesburg Police Department hit-and-run Lakeesha Smith Tundun Lawani

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